A South Burlington man, who reportedly sold 15 grams of suspected methamphetamine to a police informant last week while on probation for a drug conviction earlier this year, has been ordered jailed by a federal magistrate.
Hamza Sharifshoble, 25, of 351 Farrell St. was charged Friday in a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Burlington with knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine three days earlier.
Sharifshoble has “participated in several other significant methamphetamine transactions in 2019,” the government said in a motion seeking his detention.
Records show investigators also seized 7 grams of methamphetamine, 2 grams of crack cocaine and 2 grams of heroin from Sharifshoble’s residence at the 4-story building.
The Farrell Street apartment also yielded a large scale, a blender with suspected drug residue, cutting agents and small baggies typically used for packaging drugs, according to the court motion seeking Sharifshoble’s detention.
Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy agreed with the request of the government to detain Sharifshoble pending trial. Conroy cited the weight of the evidence against the defendant, his prior criminal history, including failing to appear for court hearings and participating in criminal activity while on probation.
Conroy also agreed to issue a federal seizure notice for all deposits and credits within all accounts at the Community Bank in the name of Hashim Muse, 19, who officials said is the defendant’s brother. Muse is listed in court papers as a student at Castleton University.
Special Agent Paul Altenburg of Homeland Security said in court papers he had sufficient cause to believe that the money is linked to drug trafficking – felonious manufacturing, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling or dealing.
He noted Sharifshoble said under oath in court on Friday that he was unemployed – his last job was in March 2019 with Rhino Foods in Burlington. Yet the bank statement showed seven deposits totaling $2,621 with 165 debits for $7,159, the agent wrote.
Investigators seized a wallet with Sharifshoble’s Vermont driver’s license, but it also had a debit card for Muse, Altenburg wrote. It was found in a black KIA Forte with Vermont license plates.
South Burlington Police Chief Shawn Burke said methamphetamines are a growing problem locally.
“It is an emerging trend in law enforcement that we are seeing,” Burke said.
A South Burlington Police detective, who is assigned to the Vermont Drug Task Force, learned from an informant that he or she was in a position to buy meth from Sharifshoble, a court affidavit said.
The informant was provided sufficient funds to make a drug purchase with police watching from a distance, records show. The informant, upon completing the deal, met with police and turned over what was later field tested and showed a positive result for methamphetamine, a court affidavit said.
Investigation revealed Sharifshoble had some 2018 interactions with law enforcement in Maine, including for drug trafficking and violating his conditions of release, a prosecutor said in court papers.
Sharifshoble is on one-year probation arising out of a guilty plea to drug charges earlier this year, court records show.
During the drug raid at Sharifshoble’s apartment last week, his girlfriend also told investigators he was involved in the distribution of illegal narcotics, court records show. She said some of the drug trafficking happened in the second bedroom of the Farrell Street apartment and at times she accompanied him in the black KIA Forte for drug sales, records show.
The girlfriend also reported that Sharifshoble had used the Muse debit card at times and that her boyfriend had allowed her to use it for her own purchases at the nearby Shaw’s Supermarket, the affidavit said.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Quinn told Conroy that she may ask for reconsideration of his detention order once she has more information.
Conroy set a probable cause hearing in the case for Oct. 21, but Sharifshoble will lose it if a federal grand jury indicts him in the interim.