He's back! Connecticut drug trafficking suspect busted again in Royalton

Same guy was tasered twice by police in Sharon during a 2015 drug bust

ROYALTON, VT - Two Hartford, Connecticut men are facing felony charges alleging they are involved in cocaine trafficking after they were initially stopped for speeding on Interstate 89 on Thursday morning.

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    One of the men, 36-year-old Jose Restrepo, spent 8 months in jail in Vermont just last year serving what a prosecutor described at the time as a "strictly punitive" sentence without any drug treatment or counseling that was meant to send a message to him because of his lack of ties to Vermont.

Jose Restrepo, 36, of Hartford, Connecticut is charged with cocaine trafficking and possession

    Restrepo was arrested alongside Angel Vazquez, 40, on Thursday at Mile Marker 23 in the town of Royalton after the men were pulled over in a Georgia-registered rental vehicle by Vermont State Police Corporal Mark Harvey.

Angel Vazquez, 40, of Hartford, Connecticut is charged with cocaine trafficking and possession

    Corporal Harvey reported smelling the odor of marijuana coming from the rental car and, after the men refused to give their consent for him to search it voluntarily, the trooper seized the car and eventually Judge Theresa DiMauro granted a search warrant to state police allowing them to look through it.

    Harvey said the search turned up nearly two ounces of cocaine along with five Suboxone strips and a marijuana pipe with fresh marijuana residue in it. 

    Both men were released from the state police barracks in Royalton after they were processed and given citations to answer drug trafficking and possession charges at a later date.

    Restrepo has a history of drug related arrests, including a May 2015 incident during which he was tasered twice after he ran from Vermont state troopers who were trying to handcuff him late at night in the Park & Ride lot beside Interstate 89 in Sharon.

    In February of 2016 Restrepo reached a plea deal in connection with that encounter which saw him plead guilty to a felony count of possession of heroin and in return the state dropped the resisting arrest charge which had originally been filed against him.

    At that time, Judge DiMauro sentenced Restrepo to 8-to-12 months after Windsor County Deputy State’s Attorney Rhonda Sheffield explained that the agreement called for a sentence that was “strictly a punitive measure” without any drug treatment or counseling.

    "Mr. Restrepo is not from the state of Vermont,” Sheffield told the court in 2016, noting that although he lacked any ties to Vermont and listed his income simply as “food stamps” on an application for a public defender, the state’s evidence “didn’t seem to make the leap that he was a dealer.”

    “The amount involved (50 bags) could certainly be somebody’s personal use” amount, defense attorney Mike Shane, who represented Restrepo, added before the judge accepted the agreement.

    During the May 6th, 2015 incident, police had been dispatched to the intersection of Routes 14 and 132  right before midnight after a caller reported that a Hispanic man was “walking down the street and seemed to be in a daze.”  

    A few minutes later a second caller reported seeing the same man trying the door of a residence in what appeared to be an attempt to gain entry, Vermont State Police Corporal Mark Busier wrote in his affidavit which was filed with the court.

    Busier said he arrived in the area with other troopers close behind him and quickly spotted Restrepo in the Park & Ride lot next to Interstate 91’s Exit 2 off ramps.  

    “(Restrepo) skirted along the passenger side of a dark colored Chevrolet Silverado truck that was parked,” Corporal Busier wrote as he recalled, “I could see (Restrepo’s) feet pause very briefly by the passenger side front tire and observed his head bob down then up ever so slightly, as if he’d put something down.”

    Corporal Busier said Restrepo identified himself by handing over a Connecticut driver’s license but denied that the truck, which had Connecticut plates, was his.  As he was doing so, Busier wrote, “Restrepo appeared to be sizing me up and I observed him flexing his right hand.”

    After Trooper Gary Salvatore arrived and took over the conversation with Restrepo, Busier said he walked over to look at the truck where Restrepo had appeared to duck down.  Corporal Busier immediately spotted “five rubber-band-wrapped packs of glassine baggies” sitting on top of the truck’s tire which turned out to be 50 bags of heroin, according to the affidavit.

    Busier said when he walked back over to Restrepo and told him to turn around so that he could be handcuffed, Restrepo took off running and Busier shot a set of Taser “probes” into Restrepo’s back and zapped him with the Taser’s electrical charge.  “He fell to the ground (but) Restrepo immediately rolled to his back and had his hands up in an assaultive fashion, not a `give up’ one,” Busier wrote, continuing, “ Restrepo disobeyed direct commands to turn onto his stomach several times,” so he was shocked again, but “it still took Restrepo several more voice commands before he finally showed his hands as ordered so that he could be handcuffed.”

    Restrepo was treated at the scene by an ambulance for “superficial wounds” from the dart-like Taser probes and then taken to the state police barracks for processing. 

    Restrepo’s criminal history also includes a Connecticut conviction for being a felon in possession of a gun which followed upon a previous felony drug conviction in that state.

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com

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