Pubdate: Sat, 16 Oct 2004
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2004 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Megan Poinski


ST. THOMAS - In the last week, a coalition of local and federal law
enforcement agents led by the V.I. Police Department made eight
arrests and took $25,000 worth of illegal drugs, four firearms, 18
knives and a nightstick off the streets.

In the wake of a recent surge in violent crime on St. Thomas, the
Police Department joined forces with federal and local agents assigned
to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, the U.S.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals to increase enforcement
across the island, Territorial Chief Novelle Francis Jr. said.

Federal and local officers, plus the Police Department's St.
Croix-based Street Enforcement Team, spent the last week patrolling
high-crime areas, going to areas where high crime has erupted, and
setting up traffic checkpoints where all vehicles passing a certain
point are searched for contraband, Francis said.

Neither he nor other police administrators would say where the
patrols, seizures of drugs, and arrests took place, saying the
investigation is ongoing. Housing communities are some of the areas of
concern, Francis said.

The drugs - 1,678 grams of marijuana, 64 grams of crack cocaine and 50
grams of powder cocaine - and weapons collected in the initiative were
spread out on a large table in a conference room at a press conference
at HIDTA headquarters Friday morning.

"This is the result of some of the homicides, the violent crimes, that
have been plaguing our community," Police Commissioner Elton Lewis
said. "I would like to indicate to those breaking the laws that we
will not tolerate your behavior anymore."

Lewis and other administrators did not say how many law enforcement
officers were involved in the initiative. Lewis called it a "grand

Funding for this initiative - much of which takes place at night and
requires overtime pay - comes out of the Project Safe Neighborhoods
fund, Francis said. He did not know the final cost because the
initiative is ongoing. Lewis said the federal agencies are
contributing "resources" but did not elaborate on what that meant.

The contraband and arrests announced Friday were only from St. Thomas,
but Lewis and Francis said this initiative extends to St. Croix and
St. John. Officials would not comment on any arrests or seizures on
the other islands as a part of the initiative, or where efforts would
be concentrated on other islands.

"This initiative is ongoing and territory wide," Francis said. "We are
looking forward to receiving community support. We ask people to call
police and indicate any trouble spots."
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