JULY 23 (CONCORD, N.H.) – John J. Arvanitis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and United States Attorney John P. Kacavas announced that seven defendants have been sentenced in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire following their guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to unlawfully distribute marijuana, hashish and MDMA, commonly known as “ecstasy”, conspiracy to use the U.S. Mail to facilitate drug trafficking offenses, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, all of which occurred in the Districts of New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada, and the Eastern District of California.
Braedon Bellavance, 25, of Mansfield, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 37 months in prison; his brother Shane Bellavance, 28, also of Mansfield, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 33 months in prison; Elton Bonneville, 24, of Beckett, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 24 months in prison; Lucas Mohr, 22, of Keene, New Hampshire, was sentenced to 21 months in prison; and James Mayer, 23, of Lyndonville, Vermont, was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Taylor Canaday, 21, of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, was sentenced to two years’ probation and Steven Lauder, 24, of Breckinridge, Colorado, was sentenced to three years’ probation. James Murray, 25, of Lyndonville, Vermont, and Brian Sawyer, 25, of Marlboro, Massachusetts are awaiting sentencing. Murray will be sentenced upon completion of the United States District Court’s LASER Docket, an intensive drug court program.
During the plea hearings, the defendants admitted that, in 2009, Braedon Bellevance and Bonneville, both students at Lyndon State College in Vermont, received high grade marijuana from sources in California via U.S. Postal Service “express mail” packages. They, in turn, sold the marijuana to buyers, including Murray and Mayer. Bonneville later moved to California and began shipping marijuana and hashish to the Bellevance brothers via USPS express mail packages. The Bellavance brothers, in turn, distributed the drugs to buyers in the Lyndonville, Vermont area and in New Hampshire; including to Mohr, Lauder a Keene State College student, and Sawyer, a Plymouth State College student.
The Bellevance brothers moved to California in 2010, joining Bonneville in shipping marijuana and hashish, as well as ecstasy to Murray for distribution in the Lyndonville area. They also shipped marijuana to Mohr in New Hampshire. Mohr eventually joined his co-conspirators in California and shipped quantities of marijuana to Lauder and Canaday for distribution in the Keene area. Proceeds from the drug sales in New Hampshire and Vermont were returned to Bonneville and the Bellavance brothers in California via the USPS express mail service. In October, 2010, an express mail package containing $27,300 in cash intended for Braedon Bellavance was intercepted at the Ashland, New Hampshire Post Office.
In November, 2010, the DEA and USPIS intercepted two suspicious express mail packages shipped by Braedon Bellavance in California intended for Mayer in Lyndonville. The packages, containing marijuana, hashish and MDMA, were delivered to Mayer by an undercover law enforcement agent acting as a postal employee, after which a search warrant was executed at the residence.
In addition to hashish and MDMA, the investigation revealed that, from 2009 through 2011, the conspirators shipped approximately 80 kilograms of marijuana with an approximate street value over $500,000 from California to Vermont and New Hampshire.
The investigation into this conspiracy was conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the South Lake Tahoe, California Task Force, the Somersworth, New Hampshire Police Department, the University of New Hampshire Police Department, and the State of New Hampshire Attorney General’s Drug Task Force.