Drugs and Crime

Rutland drug ringleader “P-Nut” sentenced to 140 months

Juvenile used as courier

Daniel Ruiz, aka “P-Nut,” 35, of Agawam, Massachusetts was sentenced May 17 to serve 140 months of imprisonment after his conviction for conspiracy to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine base. Chief United States District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford also ordered Ruiz to serve a three-year term of supervised release after his incarceration.

2014 mugshot of Daniel Ruiz

According to court records, Ruiz was arrested on March 23, 2022, shortly after the execution of search warrants at the Highlander Motel in Rutland, Vermont. Ruiz fled out the bathroom window of Room 15 of the Motel, and was apprehended shortly thereafter. Inside of Room 15, law enforcement located approximately 37 grams of cocaine base, 168 bags of fentanyl, over $5,000 in cash, and a Glock 9mm handgun.

Law enforcement’s investigation revealed Ruiz was a supervisor and manager of a drug trafficking operation that operated out of the Highlander Motel from approximately January 2022 until Ruiz’s arrest on March 23, 2022. Ruiz’s criminal conduct involved the trafficking of at least 200 grams of cocaine and 80 grams of fentanyl, with Ruiz making up to $1,000 a day in profits from the sale of controlled substances. One of the people Ruiz managed and supervised was his co-defendant, Joel Caquias Aviles, 21, who was sentenced on November 9, 2022 to serve 30 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Ruiz also managed and supervised the drug trafficking activities of a 17-year-old juvenile, whom Ruiz recruited into the group. Ruiz had the juvenile make deliveries of cocaine base and fentanyl to purchasing customers, paying the juvenile in both cash and marijuana. 

Ruiz has a prior federal conviction in the District of Massachusetts for conspiracy to distribute and distribution of cocaine base, as well as a conviction in Massachusetts state court for possession with intent to distribute heroin. These two convictions made Ruiz a career offender under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

United States Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest commended the collaborative investigatory efforts of the Rutland City Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Vermont State Police, the Bennington Police Department, the Weathersfield Police Department, the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, the Ludlow Police Department, the Rutland Town Police Department, Vermont Department of Corrections, and the Burlington Police Department.  

Categories: Drugs and Crime

5 replies »

  1. Not surprising that a drug dealer employed a juvenile for deliveries. In 1980, I interviewed a man who grew up in Holland, VT. During Prohibition, at age 14, he was hired to deliver Canadian whiskey to Worcester, Mass. The booze runners would buy a beat-up old truck, load it with whiskey and send him off with it. If he was stopped, the police would confiscate the whiskey and the truck, but because the boy was so young, they would simply yell at him for a while and release him. He would hitchhike home and make another run. He only got stopped twice out of maybe 30 loads.

Leave a Reply