A Rochester man was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison last Friday for participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime that involved North Conway, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray announced Monday.
The criminal complaint says the man was heading to Conway when state police arrested him with several types of drugs in 2018.
According to court documents and statements made in court, James Nesbitt, 44, of Rochester conspired with his fiancee, Haley Hansler, 34, and half-brother, William McKay, 47, also of Rochester, to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and crystal “ice” methamphetamine.
On Nov. 7, 2018, the state police conducted a vehicle stop of Nesbitt’s vehicle and seized fentanyl, methamphetamine and other drugs. Later that evening, the state police and Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched Nesbitt’s hotel room in North Conway and seized approximately 171 grams of methamphetamine, smaller quantities of fentanyl and other narcotics, and a semi-automatic handgun.
A criminal complaint written by DEA Special Agent John Daly says that on Nov. 3, 2018, a confidential source tipped off agents off to the drug. ring. The source said Nesbitt and McKay were expecting a package of crystal methamphetamine from California to be delivered to his home in Rochester by FedEx. The package holding reportedly 330.4 grams of 99 percent pure crystal meth was seized.
On Nov. 7, 2018, the source told the DEA that Nesbitt was getting another package of meth and had several fingers of fentanyl and that Nesbitt was heading to a North Conway hotel in his F-250 Ford pickup.
In Wakefield, a state police surveillance team spotted Hansler driving the truck and Nesbitt in the passenger seat at about 2:40 p.m. McKay was driving his Jaguar sedan “in tandem” with Nesbitt and Hansler.
Daly noted that Hansler was driving “erratically.” Based on her driving and the intelligence reports, state police pulled the truck over on Route 16 just south of the Route 28 intersection.
During the stop, police seized fentanyl, methamphetamine and other drugs, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Drugs were also seized from the Jaguar.
“Nesbitt subsequently yelled to Hansler, ‘Haley, I had crystal meth in my pocket, I’m going to jail,'” said Daly, quoting Nesbitt.
Police also found $6,600 in cash during the stop. Nesbitt claimed he won the lottery, said Daley. Later on, Nesbitt admitted most of it came from drug dealing. He said he cleared $2,000 a week from drug deals. A court document says Nesbitt planned to divvy 6 ounces of meth between himself and McKay to sell.
During the stop, Nesbitt told the trooper there might be a gun in the truck. Hansler added the gun was hers and it might be back at the North Conway hotel.
Police checked the hotel room and found a handgun in her purse. They also found meth, cocaine and fentanyl in the room.
During the search of the hotel room, DEA interviewed Nesbitt, who said McKay ordered the methamphetamine through the Dark Web and had it shipped to Nesbitt’s residence. Nesbitt said he was angry at McKay for shipping the drugs to his house and in his (Nesbitt’s) name. So, he and Hansler took all 6 ounces to the North Conway hotel.
McKay also agreed to be interviewed by the DEA. “During the interview, McKay stated that Nesbitt and Hansler were staying in the hotel because they were ‘paranoid’,” having just received 6 ounces of meth, said Daly. “McKay was following Nesbitt back to North Conway to get his half of the package.”
Apparently Nesbitt and Hansler were free after the traffic stop.
On Dec. 20, 2018, DEA agents arrested Nesbitt and a co-conspirator (apparently Hansler) at their Rochester residence and seized fentanyl and three handguns and a shotgun and assorted ammunition.
Nesbitt pleaded guilty on March 6. Hansler and William McKay both have pleaded guilty. Hansler was sentenced to 60 months on April 28, and McKay is to be sentenced Feb. 9, 2021.
“Armed drug traffickers are a menace to everyone,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “The hazards posed by drug dealers are greatly enhanced when they carry guns while selling their dangerous wares. In order to keep the Granite State safe, we will continue to work closely with all of our law enforcement partners to identify, prosecute, and incarcerate the armed drug dealers who jeopardize the health and safety of our citizens.”
“Drugs and guns are a deadly combination,” said Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “DEA is committed to bring to justice poly-drug traffickers like Mr. Nesbitt. This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative law enforcement efforts in New Hampshire.”
This case was investigated by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, the New Hampshire State Police, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Strafford County Drug Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Cole Davis.