Joint Initiative Leads to Arrest at Shuttered Tutu High Rise


A mixed group of law enforcement officers working on a joint crime-fighting initiative arrested a man on St. Thomas and seized firearms and drugs, the V.I. Police Department reported Friday.

According to police, at about 10 a.m. Wednesday members of VIPD Special Operations Bureau, along with Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Office took part in an initiative in the vicinity of Buildings 21 and 22 at the Tutu High Rise Housing community on St. Thomas. This initiative led to the arrest of Nesta Thomas, 37, the seizure of a .40 caliber Glock 23 handgun with two extended magazines with ammunition and 20 cultivated marijuana pots.

The V.I. Housing Authority requested assistance from VIPD about trespassing and suspicious activities that were plaguing the community that had been vacated, shuttered and scheduled for demolition after being damaged during the twin hurricanes of 2017. St. Thomas/St. John acting Deputy Police Chief David Cannonier was alerted to the concerns and initiated the joint operations response. As officers arrived on the scene, they encountered Thomas trespassing on the property.

Further investigation led officers to discover that Thomas had occupied an apartment on the property. Officers seized the weapon extended magazines with ammunition along with the pots of marijuana. In addition, Thomas had an adult dog and two pups on the property.Deputy Police Commissioner Dr. Celvin Walwyn expressed the department’s commitment to ridding the community of the criminal element.

“VIPD will be more visible in conducting more of these spontaneous operations across the territory,” Walwyn said.

Special Operations Detective Richard Valazquez, expressed his optimism about the joint operation.

“I want to sincerely thank our federal partners,” Valazquez said. “When we work together, we can effectively address and combat criminal activity throughout the territory.

Thomas was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm within 1000 feet of a school, possession of a firearm within 1000 feet of a housing community and possession of ammunition.

The VIPD is asking the community to report any and all suspicious activities to 911 or to call the anonymous tip service, Crime Stoppers USVI, at 1-800-222-8477.

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