P.R. fisherman involved in Tapia's drug ring gets 33 months in prison

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St. Thomas - On Thursday, another convict in the Roberto Tapia cocaine smuggling operation was sentenced to prison.

District Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Eddie Lopez-Lopez, 36, to 33 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Lopez-Lopez, who was one of the Puerto Rican fishermen involved in the drug trafficking ring, was arrested on May 18, 2013, as part of the investigation into Tapia, the former director of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Division of Environmental Enforcement.

The arrest of Tapia led to seven other arrests, including that of Angelo Hill, a former V.I. Police sergeant on St. John. Tapia also was a former police officer.

Raymond Brown, Edwin Monsanto, Stephen Torres, Hector Alcenio, Walter Hill and Angel Negron-Beltran also were arrested in later months, at different times.

On Nov. 7, 2013, Lopez-Lopez was charged in a 69-count indictment with various drug trafficking offenses, as were the other defendants.

Lopez-Lopez pleaded guilty on Jan. 29 to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Tapia, who was at the helm of a cocaine trafficking ring that spanned the territory, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, used his position as a DPNR official to assist him in his illicit activity. While in uniform and while working as a law enforcement official, Tapia, 55, organized the trade of cocaine between various partners of his, according to court documents.

Gomez sentenced Tapia to 70 months after Tapia pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering, or using his government position to engage in illicit activity.

Gomez sentenced Angelo Hill to 21 months for his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

Gomez sentenced Hector Alcenio to 30 months for his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine.

The remaining defendants await their sentences scheduled for later this month.

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

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