11 arrested in St. Croix in federal drug probe

Members of a Texas-based drug-trafficking ring accused of shipping more than 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of marijuana to the island of St. Croix were arrested Thursday in the U.S. Virgin Islands, authorities said.

Among the 11 people arrested during early morning raids in St. Croix was a local court officer, St. Croix Police Chief Christopher Howell said. Six other people were arrested in the Dallas area last week.

Authorities accused the group of mailing more than 100 parcels weighing anywhere from four pounds (two kilograms) to 24 pounds (11 kilograms) to various addresses in St. Croix over a span of almost three years. Many of the return addresses in the Dallas area were fictitious, officials said.

Authorities said they had documented some $400,000 in alleged proceeds from drug sales, but said the total drugs shipped were likely worth much more. Howell said the proceeds were sent back to Texas through U.S. postal money orders.

The majority of the defendants face charges of conspiracy with intent to distribute 100 kilograms (220 pounds) or more of marijuana. Conviction on those charges carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.