On March 22, 2010, police pulled over 34-year-old Johnny Vargas-Cintron’s vehicle in Lowell, Massachusetts for allegedly failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. When the police looked into the vehicle, they saw a package sitting on the passenger seat which, when opened, was found to contain 500 grams of cocaine.
Vargas-Cintron claimed he knew nothing about the package. He said he had just come from inspecting a small motorcycle owned by man named Manny Huertas. Vargas-Cintron said he went to see Huertas because he sold motorcycles and he was thinking about buying the motorcycle for his son. Vargas-Cintron was arrested less than 10 minutes after he left Huertas’s business.
In June 2011, Vargas-Cintron, who was facing up to 15 years in prison on the charge of trafficking cocaine, pled guilty in Middlesex Superior Court. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Two years later, in 2013, the Massachusetts state police interviewed an informant they were hoping to use in an undercover drug investigation.
The informant bragged about his skill in planting evidence, and claimed that he and Huertas planted drugs while working for the Lowell Police Department.
The state police notified prosecutors in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office of the informant’s claims, and more than a dozen pending cases involving Huertas and the other informant were dismissed. In addition, prosecutors determined that Huertas, acting as a confidential informant, had called the police to tell them that Vargas-Cintron was carrying drugs. This undermined their confidence in that conviction.
On August 9, 2013, the prosecution filed a motion in Middlesex Superior Court requesting that Vargas-Cintron’s plea be vacated and the charge dismissed. The motion was granted and Vargas-Cintron was released.
– Maurice Possley