Massachusetts Man Charged with Drug and Gun Trafficking in Bennington Area
BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Keniel Santiago (a.k.a. “Kas”), 20, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was arraigned yesterday on drug and firearms trafficking charges. A federal grand jury, sitting in Rutland, charged Santiago with five counts: one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine base; one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime; and, three counts of aiding in the unlawful acquisition of firearms from licensed firearms dealers by making false statements. The alleged criminal conduct occurred in the Bennington area from September 2020 through March 2021.
During the hearing, Santiago pleaded not guilty to the charges, and U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kevin Doyle ordered Santiago remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending further proceedings.
The indictment is an accusation only and Santiago is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. If convicted, Santiago faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a mandatory sentence of five years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and three years of supervised release, which would follow any sentence of imprisonment. The actual sentence will be advised by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Bennington Police Department, the Vermont State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella. Santiago is represented by Ian Carleton, Esq.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results. For more information about Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psn