• City man arrested on federal drug offenses
    By Brent Curtis
     | March 02,2013
     

    A Rutland man wanted on federal charges was arrested by agents who staked out his home before arresting him at the Howe Center in the city Friday morning, according to federal investigators.

    Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and city police arrested Justin Billings, who was wanted on a federal indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute heroin and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, according to ATF agent David Campbell.

    ATF and DEA agents interviewed Friday said they couldn’t provide any details of the arrest, including where Billings was living or how he was taken into custody.

    After his arrest, Billings was taken to U.S. District Court in Burlington, where he appeared before a magistrate judge to plead innocent to the charges.

    The U.S. attorney’s office filed a motion to detain Billings because of his alleged involvement in distributing more than 100 grams of heroin and possessing a firearm during at least some of those distributions.

    “This extremely dangerous combination of drugs and a firearm indicates the risk to the community that this defendant poses,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles wrote in the government’s motion for detention.

    Magistrate Judge John Conroy didn’t immediately decide on the motion, instead scheduling a hearing next Wednesday.

    If convicted of the offenses, Billings faces at least 15 years in jail, prosecutors said.

    He is one of at three people involved in the heroin operation, according to court filings. Jeffrey York and Benjamin Whitney, whose addresses weren’t included in court records, both pleaded innocent last month to charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin and were released on court-ordered conditions pending trial.

    U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin said Friday that he couldn’t comment on the details of the case.

    brent.curtis@rutlandherald.com

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