April 7, 2003 – One of the officers involved in the January arrest of a man caught on board a boat loaded with drugs in St. Thomas's Benner Bay was himself arrested on Sunday and charged with accepting a bribe in exchange for making a false identification.
And on Monday, in action said by a federal official to be unrelated to the complaint against the DPNR officer, a St. Thomas policeman was arrested and charged with drug conspiracy.
Montclaire Guishard, 41, was arrested on a federal warrant, charged with bribery and drug conspiracy. In a statement announcing the arrest on Monday, the U.S. Attorney's Office identified Guishard as a law-enforcement officer with the Planning and Natural Resources Department.
Police Officer Raphael Cintron was taken into custody on Monday.
Both men made an initial court appearance on Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Barnard and were ordered transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Puerto Rico. A bail hearing for both is scheduled for Wednesday on St. Thomas.
The complaint against Guishard filed in District Court charges that he "on or about" Sunday knowingly accepted $20,000 "to deliberately misidentify and thereby protect a drug smuggler who had been involved in the importation of more than 35 kilograms of cocaine and 100 pounds of marijuana into St. Thomas on or about Jan. 13, 2003."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings identified Guishard as one of the DPNR officers involved in the arrest of Lester deCastro, 33, on Jan. 13.
DeCastro was taken into custody after the vessel he was operating was stopped for speeding in Benner Bay. When DPNR agents boarded the vessel they found the illegal drugs and took de Castro into custody. He was later charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. (See St. Thomas Source story "Authorities: Speeding boat was carrying drugs".
According to police, a second man aboard the boat escaped during the encounter. He has been identified as Clifford Potter and is being sought by authorities.
The arrest of Guishard was carried out in a joint operation by the FBI, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Police Department through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, according to the statement issued on Monday.
Cintron's arrest, according to FBI spokesman Eric Rivera and Sgt. Thomas Hannah, Police Department spokesman, was through a joint effort of the FBI and the DEA.
Jennings declined to comment on what led authorities to believe that Guishard took the bribe money on Sunday. He also declined comment on the circumstances leading to Cintron's arrest, saying only that it was not part of the federal complaint against the DPNR officer.
"We can confirm that Rafael Cintron was arrested and advised in court … and charged with drug conspiracy," Jennings said Monday.
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