The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Matthew A. Oquendo, 28, of Holyoke, Massachusetts was arraigned today in federal court on charges related to the selling of heroin and fentanyl during several FBI undercover operations. Oquendo entered pleas of not guilty to the charges. Oquendo remains detained pending trial.
According to court records and other information presented in court, during the months-long investigation, the FBI used a confidential source to purchase heroin and fentanyl from Oquendo. On March 8, 2021, the FBI confidential source purchased approximately 2,000 bags of fentanyl from Oquendo for $4,000. Just five days later, on March 13, 2021, the FBI confidential source purchased approximately 20,000 bags of heroin from Oquendo for $40,000. Shortly after the deal, Oquendo realized that the $40,000 was fake money. As a result, Oquendo attempted to chase down the confidential source’s vehicle. Law enforcement officers attempted to stop Oquendo by driving towards his car with their blue/red emergency lights engaged; however, Oquendo continued to chase the confidential source’s vehicle – ultimately, requiring an FBI officer to ram Oquendo’s car. Oquendo fled the area in his vehicle, speeding through an intersection and into oncoming traffic causing law enforcement to cease their pursuit. Eventually, law enforcement officers located Oquendo’s vehicle and, with the assistance of a K-9, found Oquendo hiding in a wooded area.
On April 8, 2021, the Grand Jury returned a two-count indictment against Oquendo for distributing fentanyl and for distributing 100 grams or more of heroin. The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The defendant faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence based on the allegation of distributing 100 grams or more of heroin. The actual sentence would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The FBI, the FBI Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force, the Vermont Drug Task Force, the Vermont State Police, and the Easthampton (Massachusetts) Police Department Drone Unit are investigating the case. The United States Attorney’s Office also recognizes and appreciates the Brattleboro Police Department for the vital assistance it provided during this investigation.
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis. Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth represents the defendant.