RUTLAND — A man described as a central player in a drug operation that brought cocaine, heroin and unprescribed doses of prescription painkillers to Rutland County was sentenced to serve 10 years in jail Tuesday.
Alexis Jiminez pleaded guilty in November 2011 to a single count of conspiracy to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine, 100 grams or more of heroin and unprescribed doses of the painkiller OxyContin.
Federal prosecutors said Jiminez, 46, went by the name “Polaco” when he was one of three central players in the drug ring. They said the volume of drugs he helped bring to Vermont was significant.
At its height in the fall of 2009, the operation was bringing “multiple kilos of cocaine and heroin” as well as thousands of pills of OxyContin — a powerful painkiller. The drugs were distributed in southern Vermont and the Burlington area, prosecutors said.
The drug runners, who all met in a New Hampshire jail, according to prosecutors, made frequent trips to Los Angeles to buy drugs, which were brought back to Vermont in a Chevrolet Tahoe with a hidden panel.
Jiminez is the second core member of the drug ring to be sentenced on a drug conspiracy charge.
Last month, Guillermo Reyes-Nieto was sentenced to serve 15 years in jail on both the drug charge and a count of using a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
The man who prosecutors say led the operation, David Baez-Garcia, has been indicted on three drug distribution charges and is awaiting trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Ross wrote in a sentencing memorandum that prosecutors were seeking only an 11-year sentence for Jiminez because of mitigating factors. These included evidence he never used or carried a firearm while distributing drugs.
Parts of the sentencing memos filed by both the prosecutors and defense attorneys in U.S. District Court in Rutland were heavily redacted to conceal sensitive information.
Jiminez’s attorney, Thomas Sherrer, asked for a sentence as low as seven years. He described his client as more of a low-level courier in the drug organization.
He said Jiminez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who was living in Mendon at the time of his arrest, was addicted to cocaine throughout the enterprise, which began operation in 2008 and ended in 2010.
“When arrested for this offense, Alexis was a rather tragic and pathetic figure: an illegal alien; an unemployed middle-aged man who spoke broken English; had no assets; had one prior criminal conviction; and possessed a substantial cocaine addiction,” Sherrer wrote.
Jiminez immigrated to the United States in 2004 and worked as a landscaper, construction worker and for a cleaning service from 2004 to 2008, Sherrer wrote.
But in 2005, he was arrested on a drug possession charge in New Hampshire and was eventually convicted and sentenced to six months in jail.
During his time behind bars, prosecutors said, he met Reyes-Nieto and Baez-Garcia and, after his release, moved to Vermont to help run the drug operation.
Jiminez distributed drugs in Vermont until 2009, when he returned to the Dominican Republic after a police stop in Massachusetts seized three kilograms of cocaine intended for him, Ross said.
The prosecutor said Jiminez continued to conduct drug operations in Vermont from the Caribbean island until he returned near the end of 2010.
Jiminez was arrested after members of the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force — a coalition of local law enforcement and Vermont State Police — began investigating a Rutland man who bought drugs from Jiminez.
After recording three drug sales by Jimenez at a home on Dorr Drive, police said they followed the drug user at that address to Jiminez’ house on Route 4 in Mendon.
While executing a search warrant at Jiminez’ home, police arrested Jiminez and his girlfriend, Letitia Carstensen, who also was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin.
Carstensen was sentenced to serve 18 months in jail in March 2012.
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