MANCHESTER — Five raids in Manchester Tuesday connected to a multimillion-dollar marijuana ring in New Hampshire have their roots in an investigation that started more than six years ago.
According to court records on file in U.S. District Court in Concord, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration opened an investigation into a drug ring in March 2008 after Oklahoma State Police stopped a Toyota Tundra with New Hampshire license plates being driven by Brandon Anderson in Reno, Okla.
When the Toyota was searched, police recovered $2,001,550 in cash in vacuum-sealed bags hidden in the door panel and rear wall of the Tundra. Anderson briefly cooperated with law enforcement, telling investigators the money was from the distribution of drugs and that he had agreed to transport the cash from New Hampshire to California.
Anderson indicated he received directions from “Buddy,” identified by law enforcement officials as Jeffrey Colgrove of Canada, and “Goofy,” identified as Steven Sarti, also a Canadian citizen.
The DEA’s investigation identified a “Drug Trafficking Organization” (DTO) centered in Canada and run by Colgrove that was responsible for distributing marijuana in the United States. The marijuana drug proceeds were transported to Canada and California. In California, the money was used to buy multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine that was brought back to the Granite State and then smuggled into Canada.
Manchester Police Chief David J. Mara said Tuesday’s arrests were made on federal warrants and included charges related to drugs, guns and gambling.
One of the five separate raids was at 366 Arah St., a single-family home owned by Alkis Nakos according to the city’s online assessors’ database,
An affidavit by New Hampshire State Police Trooper James R. Norris on file in federal court says investigators used confidential sources to learn that Nakos received about 100 to 200 pounds of marijuana each week from June 2008 through June 2009, which brought in between $3 million and $5 million.
Norris wrote that although numerous people were arrested and prosecuted for drug-related offenses in 2009 and 2010, Nakos and many people associated with him were not. Norris said it still was believed that Nakos, along with others in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and Canada, continued dealing marijuana.
And, the trooper wrote, investigators believed Nakos and Kosmas Koustas obtained the marijuana from a Massachusetts man, Dean Sieger, who distributed it from a residence in the Worcester and Millbury, Mass., area and served as a middleman or courier for the Canadian DTO. Koustas’ alleged connection to the drug ring was initiated through Nakos, according to court documents.
The marijuana, Norris said in his sworn statement, was then distributed in New Hampshire by Koustas; Nakos; Charles Fowle and his brother, Frank Fowle; Jeremy Blevens; Christopher Ranfos; William Swanson; Kristopher Venturini and his brother, Jonathan Venturini, and John Horne.
The DEA and state police focused a new investigation on Nakos and Koustas in 2012 and used confidential informants to buy marijuana from various individuals involved in the alleged ring, according to court records.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joseph LaPlante in May initially authorized the arrest of 13 people connected to the drug ring including Nakos, Koustas, Sieger, Juan Rodriguez Sanchez, the Fowle brothers, Marc Guillemette, Blevens, Ranfos, Swanson, Kristopher Venturini, Horne and Michael Graydon.
Later, arrest warrants were issued for Jonathan Handschumaker and Jonathan Venturini, Kristopher Venturini’s brother.
Mara would not say who was arrested.
Nakos previously was convicted of drug trafficking and spent seven years in prison.
He was on parole in 2006 when he was targeted in a drive-by shooting.
He was not injured in the incident, which shattered two windows on his car, but he was the one that ended up back in prison on a parole violation for refusing to allow parole officers to search the premises where he was living at that time.
Mara referred all questions concerning the raids to U.S. Attorney John Kacavas. Theresa A. Leppard, public information officer in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said a news conference is to be held Monday afternoon in the Concord office concerning the case.
She expects a statement concerning law enforcement actions to be issued Friday.