Friday February 8, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- A two-month investigation into heroin distribution in the Brattleboro area culminated Wednesday in a traffic stop that led to the arrest of two alleged dealers.

Joshua D. Hartwell, 25, of Brattleboro, and Julio E. Davila, 32, of Springfield, Mass., face charges including heroin possession, heroin sale or delivery, heroin trafficking and drug conspiracy.

Both were arraigned Thursday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division. Davila was ordered held on $100,000 bail, while Hartwell’s bail was set at $10,000 by Judge David Suntag.

Davila had been wanted on a Vermont warrant for excessive speed, negligent vehicle operation and marijuana possession.

The drug-related arrests came after state police, aided by a "cooperating individual," made four controlled heroin buys that allegedly involved the two men. Court documents show that the purchases -- completed under police surveillance -- totaled 250 bags of heroin for $2,400 in cash that had been pre-recorded by the Vermont Drug Task Force.

The first three buys took place at an apartment in the 900 block of Western Avenue in Brattleboro, affidavits say:

-- On Dec. 12, the informant allegedly bought 10 bags of heroin from Hartwell for $100 after Davila -- known as "E" or "Ernie" -- entered the apartment with the drugs.

Afterward, police said, Hartwell text-messaged the informant: He "asked if the heroin was good and then apologized for all of the people who were inside his apartment during the deal."

-- On Jan. 3, the informant and Hartwell met at the apartment and then drove to a nearby, unspecified business to meet Davila, court documents say. This time, 40 bags of heroin were exchanged for $410.

Police said the bundles of heroin were wrapped in the taped-together pages of a pornographic magazine.

The heroin packages were labeled "Brick City." On a recording made during the deal, Hartwell allegedly said "Brick Cities weren’t too bad."

"He continued and said there was other stuff around that was a little better, but people wanted $15-$16 a bag and that was way too much money," police wrote in an affidavit.

-- On Jan. 17, police had planned for the informant to buy 50 bags of heroin for $450 at the apartment. But this time, the price had been raised for a different type of heroin, and the informant drove away with 40 bags in four bundles.

"Ernie wanted $110 a piece for them. Hartwell told the (informant) that the bags were ‘Street Life’ and that they were ‘way better,’" police wrote.

Hartwell also allegedly reported that "Ernie is ‘killing everyone with this stuff because everyone is calling for it.’"

-- On Wednesday, the next controlled buy was supposed to happen in Springfield, Vt. But police said Hartwell called the informant and advised that "Ernie was on his way from Holyoke, Mass., and that he did not want to drive farther than Putney."

The deal happened in the parking lot of an unidentified business there. Police said the informant obtained 160 bags of heroin for $1,450.

Police said Hartwell and Davila were in a Jeep Grand Cherokee that then headed south on Interstate 91. Police stopped the Jeep on I-91 in Dummerston.

On Hartwell, they allegedly found 40 bags of heroin and a $100 bill marked by the Drug Task Force. Davila allegedly had $1,100 in Drug Task Force cash.

Another man in the Jeep had $100. He eventually was released after questioning.

Davila "denied possessing drugs, selling drugs or being a part of what Hartwell was doing," police wrote in an affidavit. "Davila told us the drug task force money found on his person during the stop was from a car he just sold."

Hartwell, though, allegedly confessed.

"Hartwell admitted to selling drugs since he was 16 years old. He told us that he does not have a real job," police wrote. "Hartwell admitted that Julio Davila was one of his drug suppliers."

Hartwell also allegedly told investigators that he "does not use drugs but sells drugs to provide for his children."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.