Two Vermont Men and Two Connecticut Men Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl and Cocaine Base
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that, as of today, Samuel Fuller, 33, of Orleans, Vermont; James Bassett, 40, of North Troy, Vermont; Luis Luna, 28, of Hartford, Connecticut; and Edwin Martinez, aka “Pino,” 26, of Hartford, Connecticut, have each pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute illegal narcotics, including fentanyl and cocaine base. The court will sentence Mr. Fuller on May 11, 2020, Mr. Bassett on April 20, 2020, Mr. Luna on May 11, 2020, and Mr. Martinez on April 9, 2020. The drug crimes all four defendants have pleaded guilty to carry 5 year mandatory minimum sentences and maximum sentences of 40 years. However, the sentences will be determined by the court with reference to the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
All four defendants pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl. In addition, Fuller and Luna pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute more than 28 grams of cocaine base. Luna and Martinez pleaded guilty to a conspiracy stretching from December 2018 to June 2019, while Fuller and Bassett pleaded guilty to a conspiracy ending in May 2019.
According to publicly available information, Edwin Martinez was Luis Luna’s fentanyl source during the charged time period, and Luis Luna, in turn, supplied Samuel Fuller with the fentanyl that originated with Mr. Martinez. After purchasing fentanyl from Luis Luna, Samuel Fuller would split the fentanyl with James Bassett, who had provided the money for the purchase from Luis Luna. In addition, Mr. Luna was Mr. Fuller’s cocaine base source and would sell cocaine base to Mr. Fuller, who would then sell it in Vermont. During the time period of the charged conspiracies, every two weeks or so, Mr. Fuller would collect money from Mr. Bassett, then, Mr. Fuller would communicate with Mr. Luna and order specific amounts of illegal drugs, including fentanyl and cocaine base. Then, on a date agreed upon by Mr. Fuller and Mr. Luna, Mr. Fuller would drive to Hartford, Connecticut where he would meet Mr. Luna at various locations. Mr. Luna would obtain fentanyl from Mr. Martinez and then sell it to Mr. Fuller. Mr. Luna would also sell cocaine base to Mr. Fuller. Once the transaction was over, Mr. Fuller would drive back to Vermont, split the fentanyl with Mr. Bassett, and they would each sell fentanyl to Vermonters. Mr. Fuller would also return to Vermont with cocaine base that he would sell to Vermonters. Mr. Bassett and Mr. Fuller had a customer base in the Northeast Kingdom, primarily in Caledonia and Orleans Counties.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Vermont State Police’s Drug Task Force conducted the investigation in this matter.
U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan praised the agencies’ collaborative investigation. She stated:
“Last November, we announced the arrest of 16 people in the Northeast Kingdom following the sustained deployment of law enforcement resources to combat the drug epidemic in that region of Vermont. We told drug traffickers to stop using the Interstate 91 corridor to ferry drugs to addicted individuals in Orleans and Caledonia counties and other parts of Vermont. We also promised that the Kingdom would never go overlooked by law enforcement and that we would continue to blanket the state with drug enforcement resources. With these convictions involving a drug pipeline running to the Northeast Kingdom from points south, we reiterate those messages. Out-of-state traffickers of highly-lethal drugs like fentanyl should not come to Vermont, and Vermonters in the business need to get out. Contrary decisions will lead to federal charges.”
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Van de Graaf and Nikolas Kerest. Mr. Fuller is represented by Brooks McArthur, Esq. Mr. Bassett is represented by Mark Oettinger, Esq. Mr. Luna is represented by Natasha Sen, Esq. Mr. Martinez is represented by Kevin Henry, Esq.