Trial begins for Pressure's road manager, charged in connection to King Airport drug-trafficking ring


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ST. THOMAS - The road manager for a well-known Virgin Islands musician is on trial this week for what police said is his involvement in a drug-trafficking ring based at the St. Thomas airport.

Jace Edwards is the road manager for reggae musician Pressure Busspipe, according to Edwards' attorney, Michael Sheesley.

Edwards appeared in federal court Monday during his first day of trial to determine whether he was involved in a drug conspiracy in October 2011.

According to Sheesley, the case boils down to little to no evidence connecting Edwards to the co-defendants, who already were acquitted or convicted late last year.

In October last year, Edwards's co-defendants went to trial before Judge Curtis Gomez, the same judge in court on Monday.

Of the four men that went to trial, only Marlon Underhill was acquitted of all charges. Underhill was accused of picking up seven kilograms of cocaine from another co-defendant, Thomas Bruce, in July 2011.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Jones suggested Monday that Edwards picked up six kilograms of cocaine from Bruce in October.

It is unclear where Bruce's case stands, as he cooperated with authorities early in the case. Defense attorneys argue that Bruce was taking cocaine from the territory to Atlanta and then distributing it.

Defense attorneys for Bruce's co-defendants say that Bruce received a plea agreement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, though no files of the agreement can be found on PACER, an online court records system, and it is unclear whether his case is being handled in Georgia or the Virgin Islands.

If an agreement exists, it is unclear whether Bruce has signed it as of yet.

Co-defendants Leayle Benjamin, Aben Marrero Jr. and Michael Samuels were remanded to the Bureau of Corrections after their convictions. Benjamin, who worked at the airport, asked Bruce to transport the cocaine; Marrero, who also worked at the airport, gave Bruce the cocaine to transport - a transaction that took place in the airport; and Michael Samuels sent Edwards to pick up the cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Benjamin, Marrero and Samuels were found guilty of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, and possession and distribution of cocaine.

Underhill returned to Atlanta, where he resides.

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

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