Feds arrest man in connection with box of guns checked on flight to V.I.

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ST. THOMAS - Federal agents arrested a man they said checked a box of firearms at the airport before taking a flight to the territory on Sunday.

Emmanuel Benel Cuadrado, 24, faces charges of knowingly shipping, transporting and receiving firearms in interstate foreign commerce without being a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer or licensed dealer.

Cuadrado appeared for the first time in federal court Monday before District Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller, who advised him of his rights. An interpreter was present to interpret the court proceedings into Spanish.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents first became aware of the box when Cuadrado checked the box before his JetBlue flight departing from the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to Louis Penn Jr., special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Customs agents inspected the contents of the box, finding three firearms, Penn said, after which they placed the contents back in the box and loaded it onto the airplane. They notified officials on St. Thomas of the box.

When the flight arrived, agents watched for the person who would retrieve the box, Penn said, and they said they witnessed Cuadrado pick up the box. When questioned, Cuadrado said that the box and the contents inside the box belonged to him, Penn said.

No bail was set for Cuadrado, whose citizenship was not discussed in court Monday. Court documents were unavailable Monday via the online court record system, PACER.

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

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