OCT 18 (BURLINGTON, Vt.) - John J. Arvanitis, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that, on October 17, 2013, Videsh Raghoonanan, a.k.a. “Bush,” 26, of Queens, New York was sentenced to 145 months in federal prison after his guilty plea to charges that he conspired to distribute cocaine base and more than 100 grams of heroin and possessed firearms in furtherance of that drug distribution conspiracy. Chief United States District Judge Christina Reiss, sitting in Rutland, also ordered that Raghoonanan serve four years of supervised release following his prison term.
According to court records, Raghoonanan sold large quantities of controlled substances, including over one kilogram of heroin, during a drug distribution conspiracy that lasted from at least 2011 until Raghoonanan’s arrest in December of 2012. Raghoonanan obtained primarily heroin, and sometimes cocaine base, in New York City and transported it to Vermont for re-sale at a significant profit. On at least two occasions, he obtained handguns from customers in Vermont in exchange for heroin and then transported those firearms back to New York City.
Raghoonanan would also carry a handgun while dealing drugs in Vermont. On the drug conspiracy charge, Raghoonanan was subject to a maximum term of 40 years in prison and up to a $5,000,000 fine. For having possessed firearms in furtherance of the drug distribution conspiracy, he faced a mandatory five-year term of imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine. The five-year mandatory minimum sentence must be served in addition to any term of imprisonment imposed for the drug distribution conspiracy.
In determining the sentence, Judge Reiss noted, among other factors, the scale of the conspiracy, Raghoonanan’s use of handguns, and the harm that heroin addiction causes the community. She also considered Raghoonanan’s immigration status. According to court records, Raghoonanan is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who was brought to the United States by his parents as a child. He never obtained legal authorization to reside in the United States and committed his crimes while living in the United States without permission. Accordingly, once he has finished serving his federal prison sentence, Raghoonanan faces likely deportation to Trinidad and Tobago.
During the course of this investigation, a number of Raghoonanan’s associates and coconspirators have been convicted of federal offenses. On November 11, 2012, Justin Morrill was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison on a heroin conspiracy charge. On January 15, 2013, Maria Hunton was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison on a heroin conspiracy charge. On January 17, 2013, Ryan Orvis was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison on a cocaine conspiracy charge. On June 3, 2013, Patrick Lepore was sentenced to time-served on a cocaine base conspiracy charge. On October 9, 2013, Eric Jophlin was sentenced to 60 months in prison on a heroin conspiracy charge. Defendants Marc Wells, Barton Gray, and Justin Bosley have all been convicted of controlled substance or firearms charges and are awaiting sentencing before Judge Reiss.