News Release
For Immediate Release
August 10, 2010

New York Man Sentenced 121 Months in
Federal Prison for Dealing Oxycodone

AUG 10 -Steven W. Derr, 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 stated that on August 9, 2010, Richard Polanco-Mendez, 32, of New York City, was sentenced to121 months in prison after he pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute oxycodone. Chief United States District Judge William K. Sessions III, sitting in Burlington, Vermont, also sentenced Polanco-Mendez to three years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Polanco-Mendez, who is a citizen of the Dominican Republic, will likely face deportation after serving his prison term. Judge Sessions ordered him not to return to this country without permission.

According to court documents, on March 3, 2009, Polanco-Mendez was arrested in Plattsburgh, New York, after he delivered approximately 1,000 oxycodone pills to a man from Franklin County, Vermont. Unbeknownst to Polanco-Mendez, the man had recently been arrested for selling large quantities of oxycodone in Northern Vermont. He decided to cooperate with law enforcement and, under their supervision, arranged an oxycodone deal with Polanco-Mendez at the pair’s normal meeting spot in Plattsburgh. Law enforcement surveilled the drug deal and arrested Polanco-Mendez after the pills were delivered. The pills Polanco-Mendez delivered carried a street value of approximately $60,000.

At the time of his arrest, Polanco-Mendez was driving a Mercedes-Benz which had been outfitted with a hydraulically controlled hidden compartment located underneath the vehicle’s backseat, the purpose of which was to hide drugs. Polanco-Mendez admitted to law enforcement that he had met the Vermont man several years earlier in New York City and had been delivering large quantities of oxycodone pills to him on a regular basis to for approximately one year.

Although Polanco-Mendez provided law enforcement with false identification, agents learned his true identity by checking his fingerprints in a law enforcement database. The investigation also revealed that Polanco-Mendez was a citizen of the Dominican Republic who lacked legal status in the United States. He was previously convicted in New Hampshire in 1998 of felony drug
distribution and sentenced to a 3-20 year prison term. In 2001, after serving approximately 3 years in a New Hampshire prison, Polanco-Mendez was deported to the Dominican Republic. Polanco-Mendez admitted to law enforcement that, after being deported, he returned to the United States illegally and had been living in New York City until his arrest in March 2009.

For his role in the oxycodone conspiracy, Polanco-Mendez faced a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. In sentencing Polanco-Mendez, Judge Sessions noted, among other things, the damage that oxycodone has caused to communities in Vermont and Polanco-Mendez’s serious criminal record.

Polanco-Mendez was arrested as part of an investigation into a large-scale oxycodone distribution ring in Franklin County. United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force, the St. Albans City Police Department, the Williston Police Department, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Vermont State Police for their efforts during the investigation.