Police: Man hid more than $20K in drugs into his body
By Brent Curtis
staff writer | March 26,2014
A Connecticut man arrested Friday remains in a Rutland hospital as police wait for him to pass thousands of dollars worth of crack cocaine and heroin he allegedly hid in his body.
Vermont State Police arrested Roberto Pabon, 33, shortly before 1 a.m. Friday and quickly determined that he had drugs hidden in his digestive system, Capt. Matt Birmingham said Tuesday.
Body-packing — a technique used to conceal drugs by either swallowing or inserting sealed packets into the body — isn’t uncommon, said Birmingham, who commands the Vermont Drug Task Force.
But the amount of drugs that Pabon has evacuated thus far is extraordinarily large, he said.
Since Friday, police have collected 20 grams of crack cocaine worth $2,000 and 40 grams of heroin with a street value of almost $20,000. The uncut heroin extracted thus far amounts to more than 1,300 individual doses which sell for average at $15 a bag.
And Pabon, listed in federal court records as having a number of aliases including T-Heart and T-Devil, has a considerable amount of drugs still in his body, Birmingham said. How much is unclear, but the captain predicted it could be days before all of the drugs have passed.
Police have maintained a 24-hour guard over Pabon during his time at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
“Literally in this situation he body-packed so much heroin into his (body) that it’s taken days for him to pass it all,” Birmingham said. “Sadly, it’s the reality of the drug world we live in.”
Pabon was carrying the drugs from Connecticut to Rutland when he was stopped on Strongs Avenue, the captain said.
Birmingham said task force investigators had information about Pabon before police stopped the car in which he was a passenger. But he said there was no active investigation of him and police were unaware that he was bringing a large quantity of drugs into the city.
“This was truly an interdiction stop,” the captain said.
An affidavit filed by state police in federal court shows that troopers were on the lookout Friday for a rental car used by a local man suspected of making trips to Hartford, Conn., for drugs.
When police stopped that vehicle Friday, Pabon was in the passenger seat.
Due to the suspicion that drugs were in the car, police said they called for a drug sniffing dog which alerted to narcotics scent on the seat where Pabon was sitting.
The dog later detected the odor of narcotics in Pabon’s holding cell at the state police barracks in Rutland.
Pabon, who police said was confrontational during attempts to search him, asked several times to use the bathroom but changed his mind when police shut the water off to the plumbing first, according to the affidavit.
Police eventually obtained a search warrant to X-ray Pabon. But after radiologists at the hospital couldn’t agree on whether masses observed in the X-rays were drug packages, Pabon was taken back to the barracks where an experienced drug investigator looked at the images and said there appeared to be drug packages in Pabon’s lower intestines.
A subsequent CT scan of Pabon confirmed the presence of multiple containers in his system, police said.
Pabon was charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy to distribute narcotics and bail was set at $150,000.
But the state charges against him will be dropped in favor of federal charges. The U.S. District Court docket in Vermont shows that Pabon has been charged with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin.
Pabon’s life will be in peril until he passes all of the drugs, Birmingham said. If just one of the many packets in his body ruptures, the captain said, the drugs he is carrying could kill him. Told by hospital staff of the risk to his life, Pabon agreed to take laxatives to pass the drug packages.
The police affidavit indicated that the drugs were wrapped only in “portions” of plastic sandwich bags.
“Any person that body-packs takes a huge risk,” he said. “They could very quickly die if any of the packages breaks open.”