Conspirator in Tapia drug ring gets almost 3 years in prison

Font size: [A] [A] [A]

ST. THOMAS - One of the two Puerto Rican fishermen arrested in connection with the investigation of former drug dealer Roberto Tapia received a sentence of 33 months today in federal court.

District Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Stephen Torres to the same amount of time as the other fisherman, Eddie Lopez-Lopez.

Torres was arrested alongside Lopez-Lopez after aerial surveillance of the two men suggested that they were transporting cocaine for Tapia in their red boat registered in Puerto Rico.

Tapia was the former director of the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Division of Environmental Enforcement, and also previously was a V.I. Police official. Tapia used his position of power to conduct his drug deals throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as in the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Aside from Tapia and the two fishermen, the same investigation netted the arrests of former V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill, Raymond Brown, Hector Alcenio, Walter Hill and Edwin Monsanto.

In April, Gomez sentenced Tapia, 55, who used his position as a DPNR official and admitted to using his former position with the V.I. Police Department during his smuggling activities, to 70 months imprisonment after Tapia pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering, or using his government position to engage in illicit activity.

Also in April, Gomez sentenced Angelo Hill, age unknown, to 21 months, after Hill pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

In May, Gomez sentenced Alcenio, 43, to 30 months after Alcenio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

In June, Gomez sentenced Lopez-Lopez, 36, to 33 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Earlier this week, Gomez sentenced Negron-Beltran, age unknown, to 38 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

The sentencing hearings for Walter Hill and Brown are pending.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.

Best of the VI

Best of the VI: After more than 100,000 text and Facebook votes were cast, it is time to unveil the winners.

Daily News E-Edition

Try our e-newspaper delivered to you every day

Island Trader

Good stuff, best buys, great fun

Crucian Trader

Celebrating St. Croix History, Culture and People

Island Action

Your complete guide to where to go and what to do this week in the Virgin Islands.