Roy McAllister of Montgomery leaves the federal building in Burlington on Sept. 9. Testimony continued Tuesday in the case of McAllister, who is on trial in U.S. District Court on charges pertaining to an alleged marijuana-smuggling ring in Franklin County. (Photo: FREE PRESS FILE)
Jury hears details about smuggling pot from Canada
Sep 19, 2014
The jury in a Franklin County marijuana trafficking conspiracy case received an inside look Tuesday at how marijuana is smuggled into Vermont from Canada. The glimpse was provided during trial testimony at U.S. District Court in Burlington.
Jeff Baisley, who pleaded guilty last week to a drug-conspiracy charge, told the jury how he helped carry duffel bags of pot across the border near Richford on behalf of a drug operation busted by authorities in 2003.
"I done it about five times," said Baisley, dressed in an orange prison jump suit and looking down at the floor constantly as he spoke. "We waited until dark. ... The marijuana was waiting for us in a little lean-to next to a house.
"We walked through the woods in the dark," Baisley continued. "It was in big black duffel bags."
Baisley said the marijuana was being brought across the border for Ronald Aldrich of Richford. According to records at U.S. District Court in Burlington, Aldrich was sentenced in 2007 to 14 years in prison for his role in the earlier marijuana trafficking conspiracy.
Baisley appeared in court Tuesday as a government witness in the prosecution's case against Roy McAllister of Montgomery, who is facing a marijuana-conspiracy count that alleges he sold hundreds of pounds of marijuana smuggled into the country from Canada from 2009-13.
Baisley told the jury he sold marijuana provided to him by McAllister until McAllister figured out Baisley was "skimming" some of the marijuana before selling it another drug dealer.
"He just figured it out," Baisley said in answer to a question from McAllister's lawyer, Peter Langrock. "I came clean about what I did, but he figured it out."
McAllister and Baisley were among 11 people originally charged in connection with the Franklin County marijuana trafficking ring.
Two cases were later dismissed. McAllister is the only one of the remaining nine suspects in the alleged operation who chose go to trial rather than plead guilty to charges in the case.
According to Vermont Drug Task Force agents' affidavits, the marijuana was provided for sale by others through McAllister, Montgomery store owner Jeffrey Donna and Montgomery farmer and garbage hauler Jesse Soule.
McAllister's role in the marijuana trafficking operation dates back to 2006, the authorities allege, when an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration claimed McAllister and Donna had a meeting with a Canadian, Murelyn Burnham.
"The introduction to Burnham was so (Roy) McAllister and Donna could convince Burnham the two were capable of selling large amounts of Canadian marijuana supplied by Burnham," one agent's affidavit stated.
Burnham, the affidavit continued, previously had supplied marijuana to another group of Vermonters and owned property on the Canadian border near Richford.
Burnham's name was not mentioned during Baisley's testimony, and Burnham has not been charged in the current case. The Burlington Free Press was unable to locate a telephone number to reach him for comment.
Patrick Boudreau of Berkshire, a former worker for Soule, also testified Tuesday. He told the jury he asked Soule if he could help smuggle pot across the border.
"I asked him if he thought it would be a good idea if I ran pot across the border," Boudreau said. "He said no, it wasn't worth it, and that was the end of the conversation."
Boudreau, wearing a flannel shirt and speaking in clipped tones, said he bought half-pound amounts of marijuana from Soule and told of hearing conversations between Soule and McAllister about the arrival of marijuana deliveries.
"I heard something like, 'The bags are in,' " Boudreau said. Boudreau initially was charged with marijuana trafficking, but the government later had the case dismissed.
Also testifying Tuesday was Adam Chetwynd, a DEA special agent.
He showed the jury a camouflage backpack allegedly used to smuggle pot from Canada that had been altered to carry a garbage-bag sized load.
Source: Burlington Free Press