Police: Several New Hampshire men linked to Canadian drug smuggling ring
More than a dozen men are facing federal charges for their alleged roles in a Canadian drug smuggling outfit that authorities claim has for years funneled marijuana, cocaine and millions of dollars in illicit cash through New Hampshire.
Several reported players were arrested during police raids Tuesday in Manchester, according to local and federal officials. The office of United States Attorney John Kacavas declined yesterday to say how many men had been detained, but an attorney there indicated that some were still at large.
The office has scheduled a press conference for Monday afternoon.
According to court records, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration opened an investigation into the alleged operation in 2008 after Oklahoma state troopers pulled over a pickup truck with New Hampshire plates and discovered more than $2 million hidden inside.
Officials were able to trace the cash to a transnational drug ring run by a Canadian named Jeffrey Colgrove, aka “Buddy,” an affidavit said. The group would traffic large quantities of marijuana and other illicit substances into New Hampshire and surrounding New England states, and then transport part of the proceeds to California, where it would use it to purchase cocaine. The cocaine would then be smuggled back to Canada via New Hampshire.
A confidential source reported that between 2008 and 2009 the group shipped between $3 million and $5 million – about 4,000 to 7,000 pounds – worth of marijuana to New Hampshire, the affidavit said.
Federal agents later learned that the two men believed to be directing the drug shipments in and out of New Hampshire, Mihail Leventis of Canada and Alkis Nakos of Manchester, had been housed together while incarcerated on drug charges in the Concord state prison in 2005.
Agents continued to monitor Nakos, whose family owns Amory Street Pizza in Manchester, and his alleged associates in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and Canada. Working with local, state and other federal agencies, they were able to pinpoint the activity to at least 13 local men, each named in the affidavit.
Nearly all of the suspects named are Manchester residents. One, Frank Fowle, co-owns Capital City Automotive on Manchester Street in Concord, according to the affidavit. An employee there, William Swanson, is also named in the document.
The police said Fowle’s brother, Charles Fowle of Manchester, was a prominent distributor of the group’s marijuana and other drugs, including cocaine and MDMA, or Molly. Fowle was one of at least three suspects taken into custody Tuesday, said Assistant United States Attorney Terry Ollila, who spoke yesterday during a detention hearing for a second suspect in Concord’s federal court.
That suspect, Marc Guillemette of Manchester, is accused of drug sales and providing surveillance for Fowle during his transactions. Ollila said that both Fowle and Guillemette fled Tuesday after being tipped off that the police were on their way.
Guillemette sped off in a car but was apprehended a short time later, Ollila said. A 2-ounce bag of cocaine was found in the vehicle, and Guillemette later tested positive for marijuana, cocaine and prescription painkillers. A judge ordered him held in Merrimack County jail yesterday pending entrance into a 28-day drug treatment program.
Ollila said after the hearing that more detention hearings are scheduled for today, but declined to provide any specifics.
The others named in the affidavit are Kosmos Koustas, Dean Sieger, Juan Rodriguez Sanchez, Jeremy Blevens, Christopher Ranfos, Kristopher Venturini, John Horne Jr. and Michael Graydon. Ollila indicated during the hearing that there are other suspects not named in the affidavit.
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)