Drug trial begins in N.Y. for 3 St. Croix natives

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ST. CROIX - Jury selection and trial began Monday in the District Court of the Southern District of New York in the case against three St. Croix natives who were charged in a drug conspiracy case last spring.

The jury selection process began in the case against businessman Gary Thomas, of William's Delight, and Kirk Tang Yuk and Felix Parilla, who both live in Florida but are from St. Croix and still have ties to the island.

Court broke for the day following the selection of the jury before Judge Alison Nathan, and attorneys are expected to make their opening statements when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.

New York attorney Dale Lionel Smith and St. Croix attorney Kye Walker are on Thomas' defense team, while Felix is represented by attorney Gregory Watts, and Tang Yuk is represented by attorney Christopher Conniff.

According to the grand jury indictment, the men each possessed cocaine during the conspiracy window, which prosecutors said lasted from September 2012 until April of last year.

The charging document states that the men acted, conspired and agreed with each other and other people to violate the law with the furtherance of the conspiracy.

The indictment states that on Sept. 12, 2012, Gary Thomas and an individual who is only being described by police as a cooperating conspirator, packaged 80 kilograms of cocaine at Thomas' place of business at Paradise Waste Systems Inc. in Castle Coakley on St. Croix and that the packages containing the drugs were shipped to Florida.

On Sept. 17, 2012, according to police, the confidential conspirator was in Florida and accepted the delivery of the container of drugs, and on Sept. 19, 2012, the conspirator delivered more than half of the drugs to Parilla and another portion to Tang Yuk that same day.

The indictment said that on Sept. 22, 2012, the confidential conspirator was observed in the Southern District of New York with 25 kilograms of the 80 kilograms that were packaged in St. Croix and that he had more than $25,000 in his possession in Miami when federal agents made contact with him.

As a part of the court documents, the United States government is seeking to force the forfeiture of any property that the men possess that may have been constituting or derived from or was used in part of the conspiracy to possess and distribute the cocaine.

Parilla and Tang Yuk were arrested in Florida, and Thomas was arrested in St. Croix at his trucking business.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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