Seven people, at least four from St. John, were arrested arrested Friday in connection wth narcotics trafficking, according to a statement from the FBI Saturday.
The FBI was terse with its information, but late Saturday the agency issued a brief press release from San Juan Special Agent in Charge Luis Fraticelli announcing that Jerome Potter, Herbert Mason Ferguson Sr., Herbert Mason Ferguson Jr., Marisol Ferguson, Terrance Martin, Robert Shinners and Earl Skelton were arrested Friday in connection with “violations of various narcotic trafficking charges” and remain in custody.
Cocaine, marijuana and weapons were seized as the result of related search warrants, the press release indicated.
The FBI did not release any information on where those arrested lived and the agent issuing public information from its Puerto Rico office, Luis Rivera-Saldana, said he did not have those details. However, at least Potter, the Fergusons and Shinners are St. John residents. Shinners is listed on its website as an owner at Low Key Watersports in Cruz Bay.
The press release indicates all arrests were made in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The St. John grapevine had been abuzz since around 6 a.m. Friday, when Coral Bay residents spotted a dark green helicopter overhead.
“It came over halfway between the end of Bordeaux and Mamey Peak,” said one Coral Bay resident, who did not want to be named.
The helicopter made the rounds of Coral Bay, hovering over the ballfield and other areas before departing the area along the island’s south shore.
“I knew they weren’t looking for real estate,” the Coral Bay resident said.
Robin Clair was heading east on Centerline Road in the Coral Bay area between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Friday when she spotted a “big, dark SUV with dark windows” stopped in a west-bound lane. She said that the driver of the SUV was a “big guy with dark clothes.” Clair said it looked like he had pulled over an old red Suzuki “jeep,” which was also stopped in the middle of westbound lane. She said the Suzuki had two occupants. While no one can say conclusively that this was part of the Friday operation, Clair said that residents were on the alert after listening to the early morning helicopter visit.
She and others said they initially thought it was authorities looking for illegal immigrants who frequently arrive in the Coral Bay area.
“Good grief,” was her reaction when she heard how many people were arrested and why.
Bonny Corbeil, who lives in the Coral Bay area, as well as other people said they were glad to hear of the arrests.
“Drugs are the root of all issues – violence and young people dying in the streets,” she said.
According to the press release, those arrested will be arraigned Monday.
The case was a joint federal investigation involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, V.I. National Guard, British Virgin Islands Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Customs Air Marine Branch and V.I. Police Department.
The Police Department would not issue any statement regarding its involvement until Saturday evening. Spokesman Melody Rames said both Friday and Saturday that she had no knowledge of the issue, but around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, she said that several of the Police Department’s “task force” officers assisted in the operation.