Couple suspected of trafficking were in court Monday
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A suspected heroin trafficker who goes by the street name “Diablo” allegedly fought with members of the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit when they first “breached” the door to his room at the Shady Lawn Motel on Friday as a large contingent of police from several agencies rolled in at noontime to serve a search warrant.
For several minutes, Hartford Police cruisers temporarily blocked off the section of Maple Street that runs in front of the motel in order to protect passing motorists from any potential cross fire while the SWAT-like team rammed its way into Rooms 130 and 131 on the ground floor and grabbed husband-and-wife Aaron Butler, 27, and Kerri Butler, 32, who are originally from the Claremont, New Hampshire area.
“Both were initially restrained with flex-cuffs,” Hartford Police Sgt. Jason Pedro wrote in an affidavit filed with the court, adding, “Aaron Butler resisted arrest and had to be forcibly detained by TSU members.”
Aaron Butler glances back at his wife during his arraignment on Monday
Sgt. Pedro described the couple’s room as “strewn with drug paraphernalia” and wrote that, once the couple were secured and placed in normal handcuffs, Kerri Butler had been taken into the bathroom to be searched by a female officer for weapons and contraband. Shortly after she was allowed to return to the main room, another officer noticed that Butler had a plastic bag sticking out of one of her slippers, Sgt. Pedro continued. The bag turned out to contain a “slug” of heroin weighing roughly 10 grams, which in itself would be approximately three times Vermont’s “threshold” for the heroin trafficking statute which carries up to a 30-year maximum sentence.
“Officer (Eric) Clifford then observed Butler attempting to destroy and conceal a second `slug’ of heroin with her foot by stomping it and kicking it under the bed,” Sgt. Pedro wrote.
Police said Kerri Butler admitted to being addicted to heroin and using one-to-two grams a day
In all, officers from the Hartford, Norwich and Lebanon police departments who participated in the raid reported finding 80 grams of heroin, nearly an ounce of marijuana, 15 Suboxone strips and $16,485 in cash along with an undetermined amount of what appeared to be cocaine that is going to be tested and weighed at the state crime lab.
Aaron Butler ended up being evaluated by EMTs from the Hartford Fire Department before he was taken to Mount Ascutney Hospital for treatment of injuries he sustained during his arrest. With the help of Aaron Butler’s grandfather, both of the Butlers posted $25,000 bail over the weekend and walked into the courthouse on Monday afternoon to face their arraignments, a fact that their respective court-appointed public defenders stressed when asking Judge Theresa DiMauro to let them remain free pending their trials.
Judge DiMauro declined to let Aaron Butler remain free, noting that New Hampshire authorities have been seeking his arrest since July of last year, the same month that Kerri Butler began renting a room at the Shady Lawn Motel. While Butler was held without bail, his wife was allowed to remain out on the $25,000 that had already been posted on the condition that she remain at her husband’s grandfather’s home in Goshen, New Hampshire under a 24-hour curfew while her case is pending, with the only exception allowed being brief visits each week to see her children in a neighboring town.
The couple had already been under surveillance by law enforcement but the raid was stepped up after one of the suspects in the pair of armed robberies of gas stations in Wilder, Justin Hatch, was arrested Thursday night and told police his roommate Travis Popp, who was arrested separately at the West Lebanon Walmart store last Friday, had concocted the robbery scheme as a way to continue to allegedly be able to buy heroin and cocaine from the Butlers who were living in the room next door at the motel.
Last summer, Aaron Butler had nearly “maxed out” his sentence in New Hampshire for selling cocaine inside a school zone when he absconded from his parole, according to court records made public Monday. New Hampshire Probation and Parole officers reported that Butler has roughly three months left to serve before he completes his time in New Hampshire.
Vermont News can be contacted at email@example.com