Joint Federal/State Investigation Seizes Heroin Valued At Approximately $95,000
Since August 2018, members of the Vermont State Police Drug Task Force (VDTF), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been investigating the importation, sale and distribution of heroin and fentanyl in the greater Caledonia County area. The investigation identified both local distributors and out-of-state suppliers of heroin and fentanyl.
As part of the investigation, on September 6, 2018, members of the Vermont State Police Westminster Barracks stopped Richard Trudeau, 31, and Julie Hurst, 40, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on I-91 in Springfield, Vermont. A subsequent search of Trudeau and Hurst’s vehicle yielded approximately 4000 bags of heroin that later tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.
On September 13, 2018, members of the VDTF, HSI and FBI coordinated with various agencies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to arrest Luis A. Rodriguez, 22, of Mt. Holyoke, Massachusetts, a suspected source of supply for heroin and fentanyl in Caledonia County. Rodriguez was taken into custody in Northampton, Massachusetts and was found to be in possession of approximately 5000 bags of a substance that later tested positive for the presence of fentanyl. Subsequent investigation revealed that Rodriguez had an additional 4,880 bags of heroin/fentanyl at his residence in Holyoke.
As a result of this joint investigation, approximately 14,000 bags of suspected heroin/fentanyl were seized, with an estimated street value of approximately $95,000. The following Agencies were instrumental in this coordinated effort: Vermont State Police, Vermont Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Holyoke Police Department, Northampton Police Department, Easthampton Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Department, Hampshire County Narcotics Task Force, and the FBI Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force. U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan praised the collaborative investigation of state and federal law enforcement in Vermont and Massachusetts. “These seizures of the deadly drug fentanyl potentially saved thousands of Vermonters. At the same time, our law enforcement community deprived a dangerous drug trafficking organization of nearly $100,000 in proceeds that would have been earned on the backs of the suffering addicted. Combatting the fentanyl crisis will continue to be a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and we will work tirelessly with our partners at all levels of law enforcement and across state lines to bring justice to those who would profit hugely from the tragedy of addiction.”
“Effective coordination between federal, state, and local agencies is absolutely essential for us to identify and disrupt drug traffickers,” said James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “The FBI, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate and bring justice to individuals like those arrested in this case.”
Hurst and Trudeau appeared in federal court on September 7, 2018, before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy. Rodriguez appeared in federal court on September 14 and September 18, 2018, before U.S Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy. All were detained pending further proceedings in this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. Gilman represents the United States in this matter. Lisa B. Shelkrot represents Hurst. Mark A. Kaplan represents Trudeau. Michael L. Desautels and David L. McColgin represents Rodriguez.