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Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club, accused of running an elaborate drug ring in Maine

Thursday, 1 January 2009

The trial of several members of the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club, accused of running an elaborate drug ring in Maine, has been pushed back until at least March because another defendant has been charged by a federal grand jury.Ramon Dellosantos, 39, of Haverhill, Mass., made his initial appearance and arraignment at U.S. District Court in Portland on Tuesday.Standing beside defense attorney Elliot Weinstein of Boston, Dellosantos pleaded not guilty to the single charge of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana.Dellosantos became the 20th defendant charged in the case, which is among the largest drug-conspiracy cases ever prosecuted in Maine.Federal prosecutors say members and supporters of the Iron Horsemen funneled drugs from Massachusetts to Maine, where they were distributed throughout the state. The ring operated from at least 2004 until December of 2007, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Perry has said in court documents.Richard Szpyt, president of the Maine chapter of the Iron Horsemen, is the alleged ringleader. Prosecutors seek to have his properties in Haverhill, Mass., and Old Orchard Beach, plus the property of a co-defendant in Albany Township, turned over to the government. The house in Old Orchard Beach served as the state headquarters for the Iron Horsemen.

A grand jury indicted 19 defendants in March, and Dellosantos was indicted in October. Some of them face multiple charges and face a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Three of the defendants have already pleaded guilty, and await sentencing. Charles Green of East Dixfield and Bruce Hill of Limerick pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Kelley Monahan of Newfield pleaded guilty to using a telephone to facilitate the distribution of marijuana.The rest of the defendants are waiting for the trial, although some or all of them could reach plea agreements in the meantime with the U.S. Attorney's Office.The case is tentatively on the March 2 trial list for Chief U.S. District Judge George Singal.Weinstein said neither he nor his client, Dellosantos, would comment. Perry, the prosecutor, said federal court rules prohibit him from discussing details of the case.According to court documents, federal investigators obtained wiretaps in the summer of 2007, and they captured "thousands of conversations and electronic communications," between the defendants. Other evidence includes seized notebooks, drugs and weapons at Szpyt's property on Ross Road in Old Orchard.The Iron Horsemen is one of the largest motorcycle clubs active in Maine. The club has chapters nationwide, with concentrated pockets in Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.Along with other clubs, including Hells Angels, Saracens and Bandidos, the Iron Horsemen are classified by law enforcement agencies as "outlaw motorcycle gangs." Drug investigators in Maine say motorcycle club members have played significant roles in the state's drug trade since the 1970s.

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A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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