A drug seizure during a routine traffic stop on Route 7 in Shelburne played a key role in a complex investigation that halted a major interstate drug conspiracy focused on Northern Vermont, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Burlington.
Investigators seized 380 bags of heroin and 55 grams of crack cocaine as part of the March 2015 traffic stop by veteran Shelburne Officer Brian Fox near the Dutch Mill Restaurant, records show.
The case was part of a combined investigation with federal, state and local agencies in Vermont and New York working to connect the dots that ultimately led to the sentencing of the 10th – and final – co-defendant in federal court last week.
The Shelburne traffic stop and involvement was highlighted after Andre “Buzzo” Terrell, 40, of the Bronx was sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison on Friday in Burlington. Terrell and nine co-conspirators were indicted in the far-reaching criminal case.
Judge Christina Reiss imposed the sentence for conspiracy to distribute over 100 grams of heroin and more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, along with fentanyl, court records show. She also ordered Terrell to forfeit $60,000 in criminal proceeds from his drug business.
The drug conspiracy operated in Northern Vermont from March 2015 to August 2016. Terrell made frequent trips to Vermont and operated as a manager for the organization. He admitted importing more than 2.2 pounds of heroin into Vermont, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
There were at least two non-fatal drug overdoses in Milton attributed to drugs Terrell imported, prosecutors said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Ophardt maintained a significant prison sentence was needed.
Judge Reiss determined Terrell was a career offender under federal sentencing guidelines. His records include a 1999 firearms conviction for pointing a loaded handgun at a New York City Police officer, and a 1999 drug conviction for selling cocaine to an undercover officer and a 2008 assault conviction for intentionally shooting a man in the leg, prosecutors said.
One of the other major co-defendants, Evan “Red” Harris, 34, of Burlington, was sentenced earlier this month to about 12.5 years in prison. Harris received a 5-year prison term for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. It will follow an initial 91-month sentence for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, over 100 grams of heroin, and more than 28 grams of crack cocaine.
U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan said the joint investigation represents the intersection of several top priorities in her office.
“We will aggressively and relentlessly investigate and prosecute those who deal dangerous drugs for profit, especially fentanyl, which is killing Vermonters at an increasing and alarming rate,” she said in a news release.
Nolan said he office also will focus on those involved in unlawful gun activity and who use violence – in all contexts.
“Such conduct is intolerable and poses great risks to innocent members of the public. We will especially focus on bringing justice to drug dealers who viciously abuse addicts in the name of profit,” Nolan said.