BRATTLEBORO — Federal investigators said they were forced to crash into a car operated by a reported major drug dealer after he became suspicious and tried to go after a confidential informant in Brattleboro, federal court records show.
Matthew A. Oquendo, 28, from the Springfield, Mass. area apparently became suspicious after he reportedly sold 20,000 bags of heroin for $40,000 to the informant in the parking lot of the Brattleboro House of Pizza on Canal Street on Friday afternoon, an FBI court affidavit reported.
The currency was fake and Oquendo tried to reconnect with the informant, who alerted FBI agents and Vermont Drug Task Force officers that the suspect was after him, the affidavit said.
FBI agents attempted to stop Oquendo by driving towards his Chevrolet Traverse with flashing blue and red emergency lights activated. Oquendo did not stop — and ultimately, an FBI agent drove his vehicle into the side of the Traverse to stop Oquendo from chasing the informant, a court affidavit said.
After the collision, Oquendo fled the parking lot in the Traverse with the FBI still pursuing him with blue and red lights activated, along with sirens. Oquendo sped through an intersection and into the on-coming lane at a high rate of speed causing the FBI to lose sight of the Traverse, according to State Police Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Stephenson, who is assigned to an FBI Task Force.
Oquendo fled the scene, but the FBI got a tip that the car they were chasing had pulled into a driveway on Paul’s Road in Guilford, police said. He was eventually taken into custody in nearby woods with help from a state police K-9, the FBI said.
Oquendo appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Monday afternoon, but the prosecution asked for more time to investigate him.
Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy said the Federal Pre-Trial Services Office had been unable to pinpoint the defendant’s home address. Both Springfield and Holyoke, Mass. were mentioned, Conroy said, but he wanted confirmation.
Conroy agreed to continue the hearing until Friday.
The FBI reported that after the reported drug sale officers recovered four “bricks” each of what appeared to contain about 50 packs or 5,000 bags of suspected heroin.
The FBI in Springfield, Mass. had been investigating Oquendo and alerted the FBI in Vermont in January about his drug activities, the affidavit said.
“Oquendo was supplying bulk heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine to multiple neighborhood-based street gangs and drug trafficking organizations operating in Western Massachusetts and Vermont,” Stephenson said.
The FBI reported the informant had bought about 2,000 bags of suspected heroin/fentanyl from Oquendo in the House of Pizza parking lot in Brattleboro on March 8, the affidavit said. One of three field tests showed a positive presence of fentanyl, while two others were inconclusive, the FBI said.