Vermont News: Boston Residents Indicted on Drug and Firearm Conspiracy Charges in Burlington

Vermont  – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that two defendants have been indicted in Burlington on multiple charges, including Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Base, Conspiracy to Possess Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Interstate Transportation of Firearms with Removed Serial Numbers. The indictment follows a criminal complaint that had been previously filed, alleging that the two Boston residents agreed with one another and others to distribute crack cocaine and obtain firearms in the Swanton area between September 2017 and March 2018. John Guerrero, 26, and Darwin Medina, 34, both of Boston, Massachusetts, were indicted in a four-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Burlington. An arraignment on the indictment will be scheduled soon.

According to court records, John “Sunshine” Guerrero and Darwin “Weezy” Medina had moved into a residence in Swanton, Vermont area and used it as a place from which to distribute large quantities of crack cocaine—in excess of 280 grams. They regularly brought cocaine powder to Vermont from South Boston, prepared crack cocaine from it in Swanton, and distributed it daily to multiple customers in exchange for cash or firearms. The pair acquired multiple firearms by having drug customers “straw purchase” the guns, wherein the licensed firearms dealers were unaware that the actual purchasers were not the individuals appearing in the stores. The serial numbers of many of the firearms were removed or obliterated by the defendants, who then transported or directed the transportation of many of the firearms from Vermont to Boston. At least five of those firearms have since been recovered by law enforcement in the Boston area during investigations. Guerrero and Medina were arrested on January 15, 2019, by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in Boston after a federal criminal complaint was filed earlier this year. The defendants appeared in federal court in Burlington on February 5 for detention hearings, and they were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending further case proceedings.

In an earlier phase of the investigation, the grand jury indicted five of the drug customers who had straw purchased approximately thirty firearms for Guerrero and Medina. As noted in the criminal complaint associated with that case, those customers provided or helped to provide false information to gun stores in Franklin County to acquire the firearms and transfer them to Guerrero and Medina in exchange for crack cocaine. The defendants completed firearm transaction forms when purchasing the firearms in which they falsely stated that they were the actual buyers of the firearms and were not unlawful users of any controlled substances.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges contained in both indictments are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty. If they are convicted as charged, defendants John Guerrero and Darwin Medina face a minimum term of imprisonment of fifteen years and a maximum possible term of life imprisonment, but any sentence ultimately imposed will be advised by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan stated: “It is of paramount importance that we stop the flow of dangerous drugs into Vermont and the trafficking of illegally acquired Vermont guns to drug source cities, like Boston. This case is an outstanding example of the ATF working seamlessly with local police departments in Massachusetts and Vermont to do just that. We will continue to pursue serious charges and sentences for those who mix guns and violence with the drug trade.”

The United States Attorney’s Office acknowledges the work of ATF agents in Vermont and Massachusetts, the Saint Albans Police Department, and the South Boston Police Drug Control Unit in conducting this investigation. U.S. Attorney Nolan noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhood, a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ATF, Project Safe Neighborhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who violate federal gun laws.

Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Lasher will be leading the prosecution. Defendant John Guerrero is represented by attorney David Kidney, and defendant Darwin Medina is represented by attorney Michelle Anderson Barth.

SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on February 11, 2019.