PITTSFIELD -- A convicted drug dealer and his girlfriend are facing oxycodone trafficking charges after a Berkshire County Drug Task Force investigation ended in a motor vehicle stop, a raid on their residence and the couple's arrest.

On Thursday in Central Berkshire District Court, Andrew "Tootie" Saunders, 40, of Howard Street, denied charges of felony oxycodone trafficking as a subsequent offense and conspiracy to violate the drug laws and was held by Judge Paul M. Vrabel on $35,000 cash or $350,000 bail bond.

Jenna Wheeler, 25, is free on $5,000 bail after being arraigned on a trafficking charge on Wednesday. She has pleaded not guilty.

Wheeler is represented by attorney David Pixley, while the Counsel for Public Services is representing Saunders.

According to a police probable cause report, Wheeler was stopped by task force members and arrested in Richmond on Sunday after returning from the Bronx, N.Y., with 410 oxycodone pills and a small amount of marijuana, which police found in her car. Wheeler made bail after her arrest.

Police said a confidential informant told them that Saunders had placed an order for the drugs with a "large-scale prescription pill supplier" in New York and that Wheeler drove down to pick up the painkillers.

On Wednesday evening, task force members executed a search warrant at the couple's Howard Street home and allegedly turned up $400 in cash and a small amount of marijuana. Saunders was arrested and held overnight until his arraignment on Friday.


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Both Saunders and Wheeler are due back in court next month, but its likely the case will be heading to the grand jury and end up in Berkshire Superior Court.

According to the report and Eagle files, on July 19, 1996, Saunders, then going by Anthony, was being held on $100,000 bail awaiting trial on 24 drug-related charges and was released from the Berkshire County Jail due to a clerical error. He fled and was captured the next November in Connecticut. In March 1998, he pleaded guilty to 20 of the charges, including multiple counts of drug trafficking and distribution, and was sentenced to between 10 and 15 years in state prison.

Police and prosecutors at the time said he was the kingpin of a city crack cocaine ring.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx