BURLINGTON – Two brothers from Philadelphia linked by authorities to the distribution of crack cocaine and methamphetamines in Orleans and Chittenden Counties and possession of other dangerous drugs were ordered jailed by a federal magistrate judge on Friday afternoon.
The Vermont Drug Task Force arrested Malcolm Stephens Jr., 28, and Marcellus L. Stephens, 26, following a raid at a residence at 106 Center Road in Essex on Thursday night, U.S. District Court records show.
The task force said both brothers tried to flee unsuccessfully when police entered the residence with a federal search warrant. Detectives seized 640 bags of suspected fentanyl, 7.72 grams of suspected crack, 2.33 grams of suspected cocaine and 18.75 grams of suspected methamphetamine, court records show.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered both held until March 6 for both probable cause hearings and the government’s request that both be detained pending trial as dangers to the community and risks to flee.
The Vermont Drug Task Force made multiple controlled buys of crack cocaine in Newport from Malcolm Stephens between December 2019 and February 2020, a detective wrote in a court affidavit.
The investigation began in Orleans County in December and focused on the sale of both heroin and crack cocaine, the task force said. One crack sale at a Newport residence the first week of February is outlined in the affidavit.
During February multiple controlled buys for both methamphetamine and crack were made from Marcellus Stephens in Essex and Burlington, the affidavit said.
The task force said Marcellus Stephens, who also goes by the nickname “Ski,” used the Center Road residence for several sales and that another purchase was set up by an informant on Wednesday. The two brothers were at the residence with Marcellus Stephens having methamphetamine for sale, while his brother had heroin available, the affidavit said.
The confidential informant reported there were “a couple ounces” of methamphetamine visible on a table, court records show. Task force agents then applied for the search warrant before all the drugs were sold at the white, two-story single-family home with an attached single-car garage and covered front porch.
“Persons have been coming and going from the property, the scene is difficult to control and methamphetamine may be being trafficked. Evidence may be lost with further delay,” an investigator wrote in explaining the need for a prompt search.
Both defendants appeared briefly for separate hearings in federal court Friday afternoon.
Both brothers have criminal histories in Pennsylvania and have no known ties to Vermont, the prosecution said in motions seeking their detainment. Marcellus Stephens has several pending arrest warrants in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Conroy said the U.S. Pre-Trial Services Office reported it needed additional time to investigate the past for both defendants. Conroy ordered both detained by the U.S. Marshals Service pending their hearings next week.
Marcellus Stephens said he works for his mother’s cleaning company. Conroy noted that he tested positive for both cocaine and oxycodone and has at least one past felony drug conviction.
Malcolm Stephens Jr. told the court he works for Wall Street Entertainment, a private music company.