3 former King Airport employees sentenced in drug smuggling ring

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ST. THOMAS - Three former airport employees were sentenced in District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to charges related to a drug smuggling ring out of King Airport on St. Thomas.

Both Joelvis Acosta Liz and Edisson Peguero Ortiz received two years of imprisonment from District Judge Curtis Gomez for their involvement in a cocaine smuggling ring, while their co-defendant, Kirsten Alexander, received a sentence of time already served, along with one-year of supervised release.

Alexander has been serving his time since Dec. 2. Liz received exactly 24 months, and Ortiz, 27. Both will be under supervisory release for three years after their release.

Another co-defendant, Isa Noel, pleaded not guilty, though a federal jury found him guilty of one count of drug conspiracy and two counts of possession with intent to distribute in November. Noel, who was a baggage handler, awaits sentencing.

Liz, Alexander and Ortiz all pleaded guilty and were witnesses who testified in the trial against Noel.

Liz and Alexander also were baggage handlers, and Ortiz worked in the airport's gift shop.

According to the federal indictment, the four men used their positions at the airport to arrange the sale and transport of cocaine from November 2011 to October 2012; marked checked luggage containing narcotics with colored scarves to facilitate the baggage passing through security; and passed off packages of cocaine to couriers in the airport restrooms.

At the sentencings of the three men, Gomez reiterated that they were not the victims of circumstance, that they had made the decisions that put them at the mercy of the justice system.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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