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Press Release

Holyoke, Massachusetts Man Indicted for Selling Fentanyl and Heroin in Bennington County, Vermont

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 John Pena Baez, 18, of Holyoke, Massachusetts has been indicted on drug distribution charges. Pena Baez pleaded not guilty today in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle ordered Pena Baez detained pending trial, which has not been scheduled.

According to court records, law enforcement conducted controlled purchases of fentanyl and heroin from Pena Baez in the Bennington area on February 22, 2022, March 15, 2022, and March 23, 2022.  Law enforcement arrested Pena Baez on the evening of April 6, 2022.  At the time of his arrest, Pena Baez was the front seat passenger in a vehicle.  He was in possession of about 20 grams of suspected crack cocaine and about $7,100.  Also in the vehicle, a loaded handgun was found on the floor area of the front passenger seat where Pena Baez had been sitting.  

The U.S. Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the Indictment are merely accusations, and Pena Baez is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

If convicted, Pena Baez faces up to twenty years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000,000 on each offense.  The actual sentence would be determined with reference to the federal sentencing guidelines.  

The Vermont State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Bennington, Vermont Police Department are the investigative agencies on this case.  

Pena Baez was represented at today’s hearing by the Office of the Federal Defender.  The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Boscia.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

This case also is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Updated April 8, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking