Pubdate: Sat, 23 Oct 2004
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2004 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Fiona Stokes-Gifft


ST. CROIX - A joint anti-crime initiative carried out by federal and
local officers has resulted in the seizure of guns, knives and large
quantities of various drugs.

At at press briefing Friday, Police Chief Novelle Francis Jr. said the
recent surge in violent crime in the territory prompted the
initiative. 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; Immigration and Customs
Enforcement; and U.S. marshals to beef up law enforcement throughout
the island.

Federal and local officers as well as members of the Special
Operations Bureau on St. Thomas have spent the last week patrolling
high-crime areas, including housing communities where recent crimes
have occurred, and setting up traffic stops to search vehicles for
contraband, Francis said.

During the crackdown, which began Oct. 6 on St. Thomas and continued
from Oct. 15 through 21 on St. Croix, officers confiscated seven guns,
35 knives and two bulletproof vests. They seized or recovered 208 dime
bags of marijuana, 30 pieces of crack cocaine and three decks, or
packages containing small quantities of cocaine. They uprooted 96
marijuana plants of various sizes.

Francis said that while all the seizures did not yield immediate
arrests, nine individuals were arrested during the last week. He would
not say where the patrols, seizures of drugs or arrests took place
because the investigations are ongoing.

Police Commissioner Elton Lewis said the department intends to send a
clear message to the small percentage of people in the community who
are terrorizing residents. "It's only a small amount of thugs that are
creating problems, and we are going after them," he said.

He said the weapons police confiscated included high-powered firearms
- - such as the tek-9 and sawed-off shotgun - and a number of very
large, dangerous knives. "These are the types of weapons on our
streets. We have to get them," Lewis said.

As officers displayed the guns and drugs that have been taken off the
street, Lewis said the initiative is decreasing violent crime in the

Deputy Police Chief Herminio Velazquez said, "We need the public to
continue calling and giving us leads and information, and we will work
together to rid the territory of the criminal element."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek