BRATTLEBORO -- Bail was set at $1,000 cash or surety bond for a Bellows Falls man who pleaded not guilty to heroin and cocaine charges Thursday.
According to documents filed in Windham Superior Court: Criminal Division, Antonio Figueroa, 33, cited with heroin trafficking and cocaine possession after Vermont State Trooper Ryan Wood pulled over a vehicle carrying Figueroa as a passenger on Route 5 in Westminster on Wednesday. Figueroa faces up to 31 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines for the charges. Heroin trafficking is a felony.
Wood reports he was contacted by Massachusetts State Trooper Steven Hean at 9:37 p.m. on Wednesday to warn him of a vehicle, traveling north on Interstate 91, being driven by a man he had assisted in arresting for possessing 250 bags of heroin in 2013. Hean told Wood the driver, John Preterotti, 34, had confessed to traveling to Hartford, Conn., to buy heroin in bulk at a price significantly lower than prices in Vermont.
According to an affidavit filed by Wood, he spotted a 2001 Volkswagen Passat with Vermont license plates driving on Route 5 in Wesminster at 11 p.m. and pulled it over for having numerous large cracks in the front windshield, an obstructed license plate and registration sticker and for crossing the white fog line on the side of the road.
Wood said he approached the vehicle and Preterotti identified himself and said he has a New Hampshire driver's license, but did not have it on him at the time. Figueroa then identified himself and had a Vermont identification card. Preterotti's hand was shaking and he had several bruises and marks on his arm and Wood determined they were the result of intravenous injections. He both men's eyes were constricted, glossy and bloodshot.
Preterotti consented to exiting the vehicle and allowing Wood to search him and then sitting in his cruiser while Wood looked over his information. The affidavit reports Preterotti said he takes Suboxone and is in a Brattleboro Retreat program. He then said he picked up Figueroa and went to Springfield, Mass., to meet with Preterotti's brother and father and work on a vehicle.
Wood returned to the Volkswagen Passat and asked Figueroa what he and his friend were doing that evening. Figueroa did not mention Massachusetts and said Preterotti picked him up to bring him to his Bellows Falls residence. When asked if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, Figueroa said there was not.
Trooper Max Trenosky was on the scene with a police canine, who made several alerts to the vehicle's trunk. While discussing the process of consenting to a search, Preterotti told Wood he had a hypodermic needle in his buttocks. He then admitted to having traveled to Connecticut during the trip.
Police then spoke with Figueroa, who admitted to having a small piece of crack cocaine in his pants pocket. He also said he would not consent to a search on the side of the road but would at the Vermont State Police barracks in Rockingham. After being transported there, he confessed to having some crack in his pockets and 100 bags of heroin in his buttocks. Police then removed a marble-sized object tied off in a condom from Figueroa's right pocket and he said it held crack cocaine inside. Wood also felt a cell phone-sized object -- wrapped in a paper towel and stuffed inside several condoms -- between Figueroa's buttocks. Figueroa said it was heroin.
Figueroa then waived his Miranda rights and agreed to speak to Wood. Figueroa said he is addicted to heroin and had asked Preterotti to bring him to Hartford, Conn., so he could purchase the substance. He eventually stated he and Preterotti went to Connecticut to buy about 180 bags of heroin, which they obtained. He claimed the crack and 100 bags of heroin were his, while the other 80 or so bags of heroin belonged to Preterotti.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.