27 Individuals Charged or Arrested as Part of Joint Law Enforcement Effort
On February 7, 2020, United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan announced the results of a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional law enforcement effort that focused on drug trafficking in Rutland, Vermont and the surrounding area. During the months-long operation conducted by federal, state, local, and county officers, and federal and state prosecutors, law enforcement arrested or charged 27 individuals, searched 4 residences, and seized 14 firearms (including two AR-style rifles), approximately 148 grams of fentanyl and heroin, approximately 260 grams of cocaine base, approximately 50 grams of cocaine, and $35,560 of suspected drug proceeds.
Those charged in federal court include:
- Wilnelia Martinez-Machuca, 42, of Springfield, Massachusetts, for possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.
- Joel Cruz, 27, of Union City, New Jersey, for possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base.
- Shaqueille Jones, 25, of Jersey City, New Jersey, for possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base.
- David Hodges, 42, of Rutland, Vermont, for possession of a firearm after having been previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, and distribution of cocaine.
- Maynard Davis, 43, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Rodney Carroll, 40, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Tyberius Mitchell, 30, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Cheryl Barber, 34, of Rutland,Vermont, for distribution of heroin.
- Todd Popovitch, 38, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of fentanyl, possession of a firearm as an unlawful user of controlled substances, and making false statements in connection with the attempted acquisition of a firearm from a licensed dealer.
- Raymond Phillips, 55, of Fair Haven, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Travis Norris, 31, of Shoreham, Vermont, for making false statements in connection with the attempted acquisition of a firearm from a licensed dealer.
- Edward Everett, 54, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base and maintaining a drug-involved premises.
- John Harrell, 48, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Quadeim Mack, 19, of Brooklyn, New York, for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and cocaine.
- Steven Ciccone, 35, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Naquan Brown, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, for possession of a firearm after having previously convicted of a felony, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.
- Richard Keefe, 56, of Rutland, Vermont, for possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base.
- Noah Penn, 27, of New York City, New York, for possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine base.
- Mark Badie, 33, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base.
- Thomas DePalo, 60, of Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine base
Those arrested on state warrants and violations include:
- Antonio Sousa, 25, of Rutland, Vermont, for false information to a law enforcement officer and fugitive from justice.
- Mark Archer, 60, from Rutland, Vermont, for possession of cocaine.
- Darleen Palmer, 52, from Rutland, Vermont, for possession of heroin.
- Greg Shaw, 36, from Rutland, Vermont, for escape from custody.
- Roger Kittredge, 51, from Rutland, Vermont, for distribution of cocaine.
- Stacy Jones, 38, from Rutland, Vermont, for criminal driving while license suspended.
- Nickoletta Hathaway, 19, of Rutland, VT, for failure to appear.
The charges against the defendants are only allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This operation stemmed from careful planning and collaboration by Vermont law enforcement at all levels. The enforcement surge involved the participation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Marshals Service; Vermont Drug Task Force; the Vermont State Police; the Rutland County Sherriff’s Office; the Rutland City Police Department; U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Air and Marine Operations. Crucial support was provided by the Office of the Rutland County State’s Attorney. United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan thanked each agency for its teamwork and invaluable contribution to the operation.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan added: “Today -- as we did last November in St. Johnsbury and last April in Brattleboro -- we announce the results of a team effort by law enforcement to combat drug trafficking and gun crime in one of the hardest hit areas of the state. The Rutland area is suffering greatly under the weight of the drug crisis and related violence, and we deployed a sustained surge of enforcement resources to bring consequences to those selling deadly drugs and violating federal gun laws in that region of the state. The messages are simple. Out-of-state dealers should not come to Vermont; if they do, they will face serious consequences, no matter where in the state they do business. Addicted Vermonters involved in the drug trade will also be held accountable. But we urge those Vermonters to turn in their dealers and seek treatment. We want them to have their lives back.”
“These arrests are indicative of ATF’s commitment to rid our communities of dangerous drugs and illegal firearms," said Special Agent in Charge Kelly D. Brady of the ATF Boston Field Division. "Citizens in Vermont can rest assured that the ATF and our law enforcement partners are determined to ensure these communities remain safe and a great place to live. The success of this investigation is an outstanding example of our law enforcement community's resolve and determination."
“These arrests and seizures in Southern Vermont denote DEA’s priority to aggressively pursue anyone who distributes these poisons,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Illegal drug distribution ravages the very foundations of our families and communities here in the Green Mountain State. This operation demonstrates the strength of collaborative local, state and federal law enforcement efforts in Vermont and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
Rutland County State’s Attorney Rosemary Kennedy stated, “Operations like these are important in the struggle to protect this community from illicit drug trafficking and gun violence. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney for leading this effort and all of the agencies that worked together to help protect Rutland County.”
“These arrests and seizures are the direct result of the close coordination between our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners,” said Anna Holden, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent (SSRA) of the FBI Albany Field Office’s Burlington RA. “Through continued operations, we have been able to rid our communities of dozens of dangerous individuals looking to wreak havoc through drugs and violence. There’s more work to be done, and the FBI, along with our partners, will continue to relentlessly pursue anyone looking to threaten the safety and stability of our neighborhoods.”
“As made evident by the successes of past and present joint law enforcement operations, the focus and commitment of our public safety community is remarkable,” said U.S. Marshal Bradley LaRose. “The relentless pursuit of those who act to threaten the well-being of our citizenry will undoubtedly continue. The Marshals Service is committed to contributing the resources necessary to support the zealous collaborative efforts of those who pursue justice as we move forward.”
This operation was conducted through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The principle mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
The Assistant U.S. Attorneys handling the operation and subsequent prosecutions are AUSAs Nate Burris; Eugenia Cowles; William Darrow; Wendy Fuller; Nikolas Kerest; Jonathan Ophardt; Joseph Perella; and Paul Van de Graaf. Defendants Martinez-Machuca, Mitchell, Popovitch, and Penn are represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Quinn, Esq. Defendant Cruz is represented by Thomas Sherrer, Esq. Defendant Jones is represented by Mary Kehoe, Esq. Defendants Carroll, Mack, and Ciccone are represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth, Esq. Defendant Barber is represented by Ernest M. Allen, III, Esq. Defendants Phillips and Everett are represented by David Watts, Esq. Defendant Norris is represented by Federal Public Defender Michael Desautels, Esq. Defendant Harrell is represented by Katina Francis Ready, Esq. Defendant Brown is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender David McColgin, Esq. Defendant Keefe is represented by Robert S. Behrens, Esq. Defendants Hodges and Badie are represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender. Defendant Davis has not yet appeared in court.
These investigations are part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting firearm use and possession crimes; prioritizes prosecuting persons who make false statements when attempting to obtain firearms; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concerning persons who attempt to obtain firearms illegally; coordinates responses to persons prevented from obtaining firearms for mental health reasons; and ensures the use of modern intelligence tools and technology to focus on the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.