BURLINGTON — Two St. Johnsbury residents – including one due to begin a prison term next week — are jailed after 3,265 bags of suspected heroin and fentanyl were found in their car, the Vermont Drug Task Force said Tuesday.
Jessica L. Speed, 29, and her boyfriend, Cody W. Sanders, 30, also had 53 grams of crack cocaine in a t-shirt that was duct-taped into the engine compartment of their car as they returned from out-of-state, the task force said. The violation happened while Speed was out on bail in Massachusetts for multiple offenses from last October, court records indicated.
Speed is scheduled to pleaded guilty and begin an 18-month prison sentence next Tuesday in Franklin County, Mass. for a recent heroin and crack cocaine case in the Bay State, court records show. She had a child in the car that was later turned over to Speed’s mother and a report was filed with the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Massachusetts State Police reported.
Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered Speed and Sanders detained Tuesday afternoon after they appeared for separate hearings in U.S. District Court in Burlington. They are charged in a criminal complaint with knowingly and intentionally possessing the two drugs with intent to distribute, and also with aiding and abetting, records show.
At the conclusion of her hearing, Speed expressed concern that there would be no way for her to see her children “anytime soon.” Her next scheduled court hearing is Sept. 28.
Conroy also noted Sanders has a “serious and ongoing substance abuse” problem. Conroy said he would consider a structured release plan for both defendants, including admission into a residential treatment facility with an aftercare component.
In Caledonia County a joint state and federal investigation into trafficking of heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine in the St. Johnsbury area began in July, the Vermont Drug Task Force reported in court papers. It centered on apartment D-12 at 106 Mountain View Drive, police said.
The investigation began after an informant set up the purchase of 10 bags of heroin for $100 the week of Aug. 3 at the Green Mountain Mall in the town of St. Johnsbury, court records show. However as the sale was expected to go down, Speed called the buyer and said the sale would happen at her Mountain View Drive apartment, a task force agent reported.
The Vermont Drug Task Force and the FBI conducted surveillance on Speed between Aug. 21 and Sept. 14 and noted she took two trips to Hartford Connecticut and two trips to Southern Vermont, court records show.
Each trip was late at night and short in duration “and therefore consistent with Speed picking up illegal narcotic for distribution upon return to the Lyndonville, Vermont area,” wrote a state police detective assigned to the drug task force.
Speed and Sanders were traced on Monday to a hotel in Springfield, Mass and investigators saw them depart in a rental vehicle with Connecticut registration plates, police said.
As they left the hotel, Speed pulled the 2020 Ford Ecosport into a nearby parking lot and Sanders opened the front hood as if he was checking the engine. They later fueled the SUV and headed north, police said.
Speed stopped the car in Vermont at exits 1, 3 and 5 to allow Sanders to check under the hood, police said. The SUV eventually stopped for fuel at the P&H Truck Stop in Wells River and eventually headed northbound on U.S. 5. Speed pulled it over to the side of the road in Barnet and uniformed state troopers eventually approached the couple, the task force said.
Speed and Sanders gave inconsistent stories about being in Connecticut, had recently became engaged to marry, were in the midst of a dispute and were having car trouble, a detective wrote.
Speed gave State Trooper Justin Thompson permission to search the SUV and signed a consent form. Thompson the released his drug-trained K-9 “Igor,” who alerted after a free air sniff.
A drug task force supervisor, along with a veteran FBI agent arrived at the scene and asked Speed and Sanders how the front hood opened, records show. The demeanor of both suspects changed remarkably. Speed began to cry and Sanders turned away from the car and gazed at the horizon, a detective wrote. Speed tried to revoke her written permission and insist that investigators obtain a search warrant, police said.
Two crack pipes and a razor blade were also found in the car. Speed also had 3 bags of fentanyl in her sock, along with another crack pipe, court records show.
Sanders also had more than 6 grams on him when arrested, police said.
Both defendants waived their Miranda constitutional rights, but quickly requested lawyers, police said.
In the Massachusetts case, State Police there reported Speed had a child in her backseat when she was stopped in October on Interstate 91 in Greenfield, Mass. for traffic offenses. Police found 800 bags of heroin, 19 grams of crack cocaine, digital scales and $500. She faced three drug charges, including trafficking counts of heroin and cocaine, along with assault on police, resisting arrest, and two traffic offenses.
It was unclear what will happen to that case in light of the new arrest.