A young marijuana smuggler who went on the run for three years was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months behind bars, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Molloy also sentenced Keenan Powell-Ryder to serve two years of supervised release, and pay a $100 special assessment, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert.
Powell-Ryder was 20 years old when he was arrested on April 19, 2016, after federal authorities found 33 pounds of marijuana in his checked luggage on a flight from Atlanta to St. Thomas.
He pleaded guilty three months later to possession with intent to distribute marijuana, and was released pending sentencing under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for the Northern District of Georgia, which is where he lived.
He faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But when the time came for a judge to hand down his sentence, Powell-Ryder was nowhere to be found.
The Georgia probation office “attempted multiple times to make contact with Powell-Ryder, but was unable to do so,” and “concluded that Powell-Ryder had absconded,” according to court records.
Powell-Ryder did not appear for his sentencing hearing on Nov. 17, 2016, and former U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez issued a bench warrant authorizing any federal officer to detain Powell-Ryder for return to St. Thomas.
Powell-Ryder, now 24 years old, was arrested on Dec. 4 at Oakland County Jail in Michigan, according to documents filed by U.S. Marshals, who returned him to the Virgin Islands to face sentencing.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard Potter.