BANGOR, Maine — A Texas man who is one of three defendants in an alleged drug-running scheme that brought cocaine from Texas to Canada pleaded not guilty Tuesday during his first court appearance in federal court in Maine.
Victor “Vic” Charles, 32, of Bacliff, Texas, agreed to be held without bail pending the outcome of his case.
Bacliff is about 35 miles southeast of Houston, according to Mapquest.
He was indicted in August by a federal grand jury along with Apolinar “Polo” Ortiz-Islas, 42, of Houston and Robert Rossignol, 59, of Van Buren for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distributing five kilograms (approximately 11 pounds) or more of cocaine.
In addition to the drug charge, Rossignol was indicted for failure to report importation of in excess of $10,000 in currency.
Ortiz-Islas, who is not a U.S. citizen, is being held without bail. Rossignol is free on $5,000 unsecured bail.
Their trial was tentatively set for Dec. 4.
Rossignol and two Canadian men — Matthieu LeBlanc, 29, of Shediac, New Brunswick, and Chad Hallett, 29, of Dieppe, New Brunswick — were arrested this summer after the distribution scheme came to the attention of authorities, according to court documents. Hallett was stopped for speeding by Maine State Police, and a K-9 unit discovered $298,585 inside a box in the trunk.
All three were charged with the same drug conspiracy charge to which Rossignol and the Texans have pleaded not guilty. Rossignol and the Canadians entered not guilty pleas earlier this year in the case that was filed separately than the one involving Rossignol and the Texans.
Hallett changed his plea to guilty in August. By pleading guilty he admitted that he received a large sum of money from Rossignol in Maine, then, went to Texas. Once there, Hallett and LeBlanc met with suppliers and exchanged the money for cocaine.
The suppliers are not identified in the prosecution version of the offense to which Hallett pleaded guilty.
Court documents described how the operation worked.
“Hallett would then transport the cocaine by car back to Northern Maine and turn it over to the [Rossignol],” one document states. “[Rossignol] would then transport the cocaine into Canada where it would be picked up by Hallett or [LeBlanc] and transported to its final destination.”
A sentencing date for Hallett has not been set.
All five men charged in connection with the operation face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000 on the drug charge, if convicted.