Jury finds St. Croix man not guilty of drug possession and trafficking

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ST. CROIX - After a week-long trial that began Monday, a federal jury on Friday found a Frederiksted man not guilty of drug possession and trafficking.

Israel Felix, of Estate Carlton was on trial before Chief District Judge Wilma Lewis, charged with the single count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was arrested June 5, 2013, after police made a traffic stop.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews prosecuted the case.

Felix's attorney, Jomo Meade, contended that when police stopped Felix on Queen Mary Highway, less than a mile away from his home, the search warrant that they possessed lacked probable cause; that the affidavit in support of the warrant contained errors and false statements; and that the seizure of the truck was impermissible. Meade said the prosecution lacked any credible evidence against Felix.

According to court documents, police initiated a traffic stop near William's Delight and found $400,000 in cash in the vehicle that was being driven by Felix's father.

The man told police the money was his and that he had been saving it up from working two jobs for the last 35 years.

Federal and local agents in a joint operation then set up surveillance around the Felixes' home in Estate Carlton, suspecting them of drug trafficking.

Surveillance at the house indicated that a man - later identified as Israel Felix - left the residence with a cardboard box and handed it to another man, who placed it in the passenger seat of a white Dodge pick-up truck, according to court documents.

Officers stopped the vehicle as it was driving away from the residence and said they observed a box with another large amount of cash inside, which Felix reportedly said belonged to him. While officers reported that the men were free to leave, and in fact had left and returned, the police kept possession of the vehicle, pending a search warrant.

Once the warrant was obtained, a search yielded an undisclosed amount of cash, a single brick of cocaine and six baggies of marijuana, according to court documents.

Felix was arrested but pleaded not guilty.

Testimony in the case was completed on Thursday and jurors found Felix not guilty of the charge.

All conditions of restraint against Felix were vacated, and his secured bond in the amount of $25,000 was exonerated.

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

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