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Press Release

Armed Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Illegally Possessing a Firearm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Vermont

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Joel Ivan Caquias Aviles, 22, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to serve 30 months of imprisonment for unlawfully possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.  Chief United States District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford also ordered Aviles to serve a three-year term of supervised release after his incarceration.

According to court records, Aviles was arrested on March 23, 2022 during the execution of search warrants at the Highlander Motel in Rutland, Vermont.  Aviles was located in Room 15 of the Motel.  A search of that room resulted in the seizure of approximately 37 grams of cocaine base, 168 bags of fentanyl, over $5,000 in cash, and a Glock 9mm handgun.  A Burlington Police Department identification technician examined the Glock handgun, and located Aviles’ fingerprints on the firearm.  In 2019, Aviles was convicted of two felonies related to violations of the Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act.  Those prior felony convictions prohibited Aviles from possessing a firearm.

United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the collaborative investigatory efforts of the Rutland City Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Vermont State Police, the Bennington Police Department, the Weathersfield Police Department, the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, the Ludlow Police Department, the Rutland Town Police Department, the Vermont Department of Corrections, and the Burlington Police Department.  

The prosecutor was Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Ophardt.  Aviles was represented by Devin McLaughlin, Esq. 

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.  For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit

Updated November 9, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses