The V.I. Police Department has received nearly $900,000 seized from criminal enterprises, according to a Homeland Security Investigations official.
“It can be used to purchase whatever they desire to help the department. Based on conversations with the commissioner they’ve already purchased equipment for forensics. Put it this way: they are using it wisely,” Eugene Thomas, Homeland Security Investigations St. Croix resident agent in charge, said Tuesday.
Thomas was present last week when his San Juan counterpart, Ivan Arvelo, presented a symbolic check to Acting Police Commissioner Ray Martinez in the amount of $870,738.55.
Barrington Thomas, the St. Thomas-St. John chief of police, and Gail Fraser, Homeland Security Investigations St. Thomas resident agent in charge, were also in attendance. “The check represents the amount that was transferred to VIPD as part of the HSI Equitable Sharing Program,” a news release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security noted.
“Through equitable sharing, federal forfeiture proceeds can be shared with cooperating state and local law enforcement agencies. This helps to enhance cooperation amongst these agencies and provide valuable additional resources to state and local law enforcement agencies,” the release said.
In order to receive a share of seized assets, an agency must assist in the law enforcement effort resulting in the federal forfeiture.
According to the statement, the check represents a portion of assets that were seized from criminal organizations by Customs and Board Patrol’s Air and Marine Enforcement Officers and Homeland Security Investigations St. Thomas agents with support from V.I. Police.
“This collaboration with law enforcement partners is an essential element towards combatting transnational criminal organizations and their illicit activities in our area of responsibility,” Arvelo said.