KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A former top enforcement officer for the U.S. Virgin Islands environment department has pleaded guilty to using the agency as a criminal enterprise.
Roberto Tapia pleaded guilty to racketeering in federal court Tuesday. The 55-year-old faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. Sentencing is set for January.
Tapia was the director of environmental enforcement for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning & Natural Resources. U.S. agents arrested him on drug trafficking charges in May after he was caught with seven kilograms (15 pounds) of cocaine on a dock in St. Thomas. He had just stepped off a government patrol boat and was carrying his department-issued handgun.
In September, Tapia was charged in a 34-count indictment along with six other defendants, including a territory police officer.