Two Vermont men and another with ties to the state have been charged with conspiracy to distribute 252 pounds of marijuana worth more than $500,000 that had been shipped cross-country from California.
Trevor Burton, of Duxbury, and Mark Girardi, of North Hero, were charged with felony counts after a traffic stop in Illinois that intercepted the shipment. A third man, Eric Durand, of California, who had been staying with Burton in Duxbury, was also arrested.
The marijuana, according to the affidavit, is valued at about $2,000 per pound, making the intercepted shipment worth $504,000.
The events leading to the arrests began Monday when authorities in Illinois stopped a Ford F350 hauling an 18-foot flatbed car hauler and the driver admitted that the trailer had marijuana in a false floor that was en route from California to Vermont, according to the affidavit.
The driver, who was not named, cooperated, and police drove the vehicle and trailer the rest of the way to Vermont, where it was met by agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Once in Vermont on Tuesday, the alleged recipient of the shipment told the driver to leave the trailer at some property in Jericho where an elderly couple didn’t pay close attention, police said.
DEA agents, however, were not comfortable leaving the trailer there so they had the driver tell the recipient, later identified as Burton, he couldn’t unhook the trailer and to meet him, police said.
But Burton instead sent a woman, known as K.N., whom he described as his girlfriend, and another person identified as Durand, to meet the driver.
According to the affidavit, Durand told police he was originally from Starksboro and said he had just flown to Vermont from California.
Durand and K.N. were blindfolded by Burton every time they had gone to his house, they told police.
So police extended the ruse by having the woman, who agreed to cooperate, call Burton and tell him police had picked her up for driving under the influence and could be released to a friend but could not drive home.
Burton then told an officer on the phone she could be dropped off at his residence at 416 Maple St. in Jericho.
Officers went to that address and found Burton waiting at the end of a long driveway and took him to custody, the affidavit said.
Wednesday, the shipper, identified only as “Carl” in the affidavit, called the driver and said he had heard about the arrest of Burton and Durand and arranged to have another man pick up the shipment.
Police, still using the driver, arranged to have Girardi, a former skateboard shop owner, meet them in South Burlington, where they took Girardi into custody.
Police said they were able to determine that the driver was expecting to be paid $30,000 for driving the shipment across country.
Burton and Durand both made an initial appearance Wednesday, according to court documents.
Durand was released on his own recognizance with conditions, while Burton’s bond hearing was set for Thursday.
Both men are set to be arraigned April 9 in Burlington.
Girardi had not yet made his initial appearance Thursday.
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