The Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Thomas
V.I. Police Officer and National Guard member Teshawn Adams was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Miami on Monday to serve more than 14 years in federal prison, after prosecutors said he spent years “heading an international drug trafficking scheme.”
Senior Judge Paul Huck sentenced Adams to serve 170 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Huck also ordered Adams to pay a $2,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
Adams, 26, and several fellow Virgin Islanders were arrested after they traveled on a charter plane from St. Thomas to Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Fla. on Jan. 12.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers discovered 294 plastic-wrapped bricks of cocaine inside several duffel bags and suitcases, weighing just under 725 pounds with an estimated value of more than $5 million.
The other men facing charges in the case are V.I. Police Officer and National Guard member Shakim Mike, 29, Adams’s twin brother Tevon Adams, V.I. Internal Revenue Bureau tax return controller Roystin David and Maleek Leonard, 27.
Leonard was sentenced Tuesday to serve just over five years in prison.
A sixth man, Anthon Berkeley, was charged after he admitted to driving from Orlando to Miami to pick up a kilo of the cocaine, and expected to be paid $18,000 to deliver it to the ultimate buyer.
Prior to sentencing, Teshawn Adams claimed he was not the leader of the conspiracy, “pointing to co-defendant Mike as the true leader of the organization,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Yeney Hernandez.
Hernandez said Adams “served as the leader or organizer for the entire lifespan of the conspiracy, working with Roystin David and Tevon Adams to negotiate drug transactions, develop new smuggling techniques, and calculate profits for FYF Family,’ their criminal group.”
Based on text message conversations recovered by investigators, the men began developing their trafficking operation “as early as June 2019,” Hernandez wrote.
Teshawn Adams told David they would be “millionaires” by 2021, and he invited David to travel to the Dominican Republic with him “to meet the ‘main plug,’ a commonly used term for a drug supplier,” Hernandez wrote. “The communications betray Teshawn Adams’s central role in the conspiracy and his insatiable greed.”
While criminals sometimes act “out of desperation and lack of family support,” Hernandez said Adams “had a robust emotional support network and a successful career with two sources of income. In brief, he had every reason and opportunity to make his mother proud. Instead of thinking about his family, his career, and the people who depended on him, he chose to break the law — repeatedly and in ever more complex ways — for years.”
Friends and fellow police officers wrote letters to the court in support of Adams, asking for lenience.
“Many of the people writing on the defendant’s behalf did not know Adams nearly as well as they claimed to know him. For example, Police officer Shanice Allamby described Adams as someone who always displayed a degree of high integrity, responsibility, [and] professionalism.’ She suggested that Adams may have simply fallen victim to bad influence,” Hernandez wrote.
“Similarly, Mikhail Woodley suggested that Adams may have turned to a life of crime ‘for the betterment of his daughter.’ Ms. Allamby and Ms. Woodley evidently never read Adams’s text messages, in which he: planned to use military planes to transport cocaine; negotiated the price of multi-hundred-thousand-dollar shipments of cocaine; and believed he would become a ‘millionaire’ in one years’ time from drug-trafficking,” Hernandez wrote. “The idea that the defendant merely fell in with ‘a bad set of friends’ inverts the dynamic: it is Adams who recruited Leonard and directly dealt with the supply-level conspirators. Likewise, the defendant was not planning to become a millionaire for his child’s sake, but for his self-centered interests alone.”
Meanwhile, Federal Public Defender Lauren Field Krasnoff, who is representing Mike, argued in a sentencing memorandum that Mike was not fully aware of the extent of the conspiracy, and was pressured into participating.
As a member of the police department’s gang and SWAT units, Mike’s “aggressive pursuit of the violent gang members in his community were intertwined with his criminal conduct,” Krasnoff wrote. Mike “was involved in the arrests of several members of a known narcotics organization. In retaliation for his involvement in these arrests, Mr. Mike and his family faced threats of violence and death. Mr. Mike’s participation in this admitted drug conspiracy was in part to relieve the threats that Mr. Mike was facing.”
She acknowledged that “Of course, Mr. Mike recognizes now that there were viable legal options to mitigate the threats that he faced. Nevertheless, it was his pursuit of gang members as a police officer that entangled him in his criminal conduct.”
Krasnoff has requested that Mike be sentenced to between 78 and 97 months in prison.
Berkeley, Mike, and Tevon Adams are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.
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