N.Y. jury finds 3 St. Croix men guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine

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ST. CROIX - A District Court jury in the Southern District of New York deliberated for less than three hours on Thursday before returning guilty verdicts against three St. Croix natives charged last spring in a drug conspiracy case.

The jury found 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, guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it in the trial that began July 7 before District Judge Alison Nathan.

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.

Jurors heard a week and a half of testimony from prosecution and defense witnesses, and both sides rested their cases on Tuesday. Following the closing arguments that began early Wednesday, Nathan delivered her final instructions before court was recessed for the day.

According to the grand jury indictment, the men each possessed cocaine during the conspiracy window, which prosecutors said lasted from September 2012 until April 2013 and that 80 kilograms of cocaine was packaged by Thomas at his business, Paradise Waste Systems Inc. in Castle Coakley.

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 that included locations in New York, Miami and St. Croix, specifically at Thomas' business.

As a part of the court documents, the United States government said they would seek to force the forfeiture of any property that the men possess that is connected with the drug conspiracy.

Parilla and Tang Yuk were arrested in Florida and remain jailed pending their sentencing.

Thomas was arrested on St. Croix at his trucking business. He was released after posting property to satisfy his bail and was placed in the custody of two third-party custodians. Since his conviction Thursday, prosecutors moved to have his bail and release conditions revoked and he was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service pending his sentencing.

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

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