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Press Release

Northeast Kingdom Man Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy Case

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

Burlington, Vermont – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont stated that on June 28, 2024, Clair Deslandes, 65, of Island Pond, Vermont, was sentenced by United States District Judge Christina Reiss to a term of 30 months’ imprisonment to be followed by a 3-year term of supervised release. Deslandes previously pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to distribute fentanyl and cocaine base pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States.

According to court records, Deslandes became associated with his codefendant Juan Carlos “JC” Ortiz in late 2021 while Ortiz was staying at multiple residences in and around Orleans County, Vermont, for the purpose of distributing drugs. Deslandes purchased controlled substances from Ortiz, both for his own consumption and for distribution to others in the Northeast Kingdom. Witnesses explained that Deslandes allowed Ortiz and other drug dealers to periodically stay at his Island Pond residence, which was used to store and distribute controlled substances to customers. Deslandes appears to have continued his drug interactions with Ortiz until Ortiz was arrested in August 2022. Earlier in this case, Judge Reiss sentenced Ortiz to 95 months’ imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy.

The sentencing hearing followed a long-term investigation conducted by multiple local, county, state and federal agencies that was led by the Northeastern Vermont Drug Task Force (NEVDTF) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). NEVDTF and ATF were assisted in this investigation by agents with Homeland Security Investigations, detectives and troopers from the Vermont State Police; members of the Orleans and Essex County Sheriff’s Departments, the Newport Police Department; aviators with the Air & Marine Operations component of United States Customs & Border Protection; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the collaboration of federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies during the investigation and prosecution of the case.

The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Lasher. William Kraham, Esq. represented Clair Deslandes.

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


Media Inquiries/Public Affairs Officer:

(802) 951-6725

Updated July 1, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Drug Trafficking