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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

Friday, October 2, 2015

Michael DePalma, Louis Turcio, and Andrew Darling Indicted in Bath Salts Conspiracy

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Michael DePalma, 56, of Plainfield, New Hampshire, Louis Turcio, 51, of Springfield, Vermont, and Andrew Darling, 52, of North Walpole, New Hampshire, appeared today in United States District Court in Burlington following their arrests on a charge of conspiracy to distribute alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone, or a-PVP, commonly known as “flakka” or “bath salts.” In addition to the conspiracy charge, the September 24, 2015 indictment charged Turcio with possession with intent to distribute a-PVP on April 14, 2015, and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered that Michael DePalma’s arraignment and detention hearing will occur on October 2, 2015. Judge Conroy also ordered that Darling and Turcio’s detention hearing will take place on October 6, 2015. All three defendants were ordered detained pending their detention hearings. If convicted of the drug conspiracy offense, DePalma, Turcio, and Darling face a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000. If convicted of the firearms charge, Turcio faces a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in prison.

According to court records, as part of a long-term investigation into bath salts distribution in the Springfield, Vermont area, law enforcement gathered evidence indicating that DePalma, Turcio, and Darling participated in a months-long enterprise involving the importation of bath salts for distribution in Springfield and neighboring areas. The alleged conspiracy involved the on-line ordering of substantial amounts of bath salts from a supplier in China, wiring of thousands of dollars overseas to purchase the product, and arranging for delivery of the bath salts to locations in Vermont and New Hampshire.

On April 14, 2015, law enforcement seized from Turcio approximately one kilogram of a-PVP in Springfield, Vermont. During the execution of a March 9, 2015 search warrant at Turcio’s residence, law enforcement recovered several handguns.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that the charges against DePalma, Darling, and Turcio are only accusations and they are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty. Any sentences imposed in this case will be advised by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. U.S. Attorney Eric Miller commended the efforts of the agencies involved in this investigation, which include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Vermont Drug Task Force, the Springfield, Vermont Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the New Hampshire Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Plainfield, New Hampshire Police Department.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. Doyle. DePalma is represented by Jordana Levine, Esq., Darling is represented by Lisa B. Shelkrot, Esq., and Turcio is represented by Frank J. Twarog, Esq.

Updated October 2, 2015