Two arrested on drug charges after parking lot struggle

Sep 2, 2021

Two people were arrested Aug. 30 on a series of charges, including drug trafficking, after a struggle in a hotel parking lot on Route 6 that caused minor injuries to three state troopers, State Police reported.

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Aug. 30, Trooper Cody Smith, assigned to the State Police Dartmouth-Barracks, was patrolling Route 6 in Dartmouth and observed what he believed to be a hand-to-hand drug deal inside a Ford Escape SUV parked at hotel known for a high amount of narcotics activity, State Police said.

The hotel was not identified by State Police.

Smith observed the SUV leave the parking lot briefly, drive erratically, then quickly return to the lot, where the trooper stopped the vehicle.

The operator, Guillermo Santana, 36, of Taunton, and passenger, Vanessa Bruno, 31, of Fall River, got out of the vehicle on their own. Smith instructed them to sit back in the vehicle which they did, after initially failing to comply, State Police said.

During conversation with the trooper, Santana and Bruno became increasingly nervous and evasive in their answers and Bruno began moving bags around inside the vehicle and reaching for various items. Troopers Alex Boswell and Ryan Boswell responded as back up. 

Troopers discovered that Santana’s driver’s license was no longer valid and he was ordered to get out of the car. Santana refused and became increasingly agitated. The troopers then began to remove Santana from the vehicle.

When Santana was partially out of, police said he attempted to reach back inside the car for a black fanny-pack. The troopers attempted to secure Santana in handcuffs when he resisted and pulled away from the troopers, resulting in a struggle, State Police said.

At the rear of the vehicle, Santana started to reach toward his waistband. The three troopers and Santana fell to the ground where Santana lunged for Ryan Boswell’s duty belt. Smith deployed his taser to make Santana comply but Santana ripped the single probe that made contact with his skin and fled on foot.

During the struggle, Bruno repeatedly went to and from the vehicle, moving around items in the interior. Smith put her into handcuffs while troopers Ryan Boswell and Alex Boswell went after Santana.

At this time, Dartmouth police officers began to arrive on scene to provide additional back-up. Trooper Ryan Toolin caught up to troopers, chased Santana and deployed his taser.

Santana, who does not possess a license to carry, pulled a fully loaded 9mm handgun from his pocket and dropped it. After another brief struggle, Santana was cuffed and restrained.

Further investigation of the Ford Escape revealed the black fanny-pack contained 36 grams of alleged individually packaged crack cocaine and a large amount of cash. Bruno was then placed under arrest.

Santana and Bruno were evaluated by Dartmouth EMS after complaining of panic attacks and trouble breathing. Troopers Smith, Alex Boswell and Ryan Boswell were treated for minor injuries resulting from the struggle.

Santana was arrested on 13 charges: possession of fentanyl; trafficking in crack cocaine, 36 grams; assault and battery on a police officer; resisting arrest; disturbing the peace; possession of a firearm during a felony, firearm violation with one prior violent or drug crime; possession of a firearm, second offense; possession of a firearm or ammunition without an FID card, subsequent offense; carrying a loaded firearm; failure to signal; failure to use care in starting, stopping, turning or backing; and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

Bruno was charged with interfering with a police official; possession of fentanyl and trafficking in crack cocaine, 36 grams.

During his arraignment in New Bedford District Court, Santana was ordered held pending a dangerousness hearing.