Remaining defendants in Tapia drug trafficking case move closer to trial


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ST. THOMAS - The drug trafficking ring case that has led to the downfall of a top government official and a ranking V.I. Police officer moved closer to trial time for the remaining defendants who still maintain their innocence.

An omnibus hearing, or a pretrial hearing, took place Tuesday in District Court for Hector Alcenio, Raymond Brown and Walter Hill, according to PACER, an online court records system.

Co-defendants in the case - former Department of Planning and Natural Resources Chief of Enforcement Roberto Tapia, former V.I. Police Sgt. Angelo Hill, Edwin Monsanto, Eddie Lopez-Lopez, Angel Negron-Beltran and Stephen Torres - all are scheduled for sentencing in the next few months after entering pleas of guilt.

Tapia's sentencing currently is set for 9 a.m. March 5.

Tapia, the first to be arrested among the defendants, was caught in Red Hook by federal agents carrying 7.72 kilos of cocaine in a backpack on May 17.

Tapia pleaded guilty to racketeering in September for exploiting his status as a DPNR officer in a criminal enterprise to engage in illegal drug trafficking activities.

Angelo Hill pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy in December, and his sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. April 17.

Monsanto, Lopez-Lopez, Negron-Beltran and Torres are scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. June 5.

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

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