So get this: Remember earlier this month when Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to appear in New Hampshire to give a talk on “on the opioid crisis and illegal drug flow in New Hampshire”? Well, it turns out that had Pence completed the trip, he would’ve hopped off of Air Force Two and shaken hands with a former NFL player who was under investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration for moving fentanyl, Politico reports.
I know, bizarre AF.
At the time, the canceled trip created all kinds of rumors, and President Trump didn’t help matters, telling reporters in July that “there was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire I can’t tell you about it.” He added that the reason would be known in the coming weeks.
Well, it turns out that Pence’s team was informed that the DEA was investigating former NFL offensive lineman Jeff Hatch, who was working for an opioid addiction treatment center where Pence was supposed to make a visit.
According to Politico, Hatch was under investigation for “moving more than $100,000 of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.” Politico notes that the former New York Giants player had been an advocate for ending the drug crisis and spoke openly about his addiction, which ultimately ended his football career.
“He has been beaten down in the past, but now stands tall in front of audiences to personally share his compelling story,” says a listing offering him to speak to groups, Politico reports.
Federal court documents released Friday said Hatch was caught in 2017 with 1,500 grams of fentanyl. A baggie of the drug sold on the streets of New Hampshire is usually about one-tenth of a gram.
Earlier that year, federal, state and local police began an investigation into a supplier of drugs flowing into Manchester, N.H, an area hit hard by the opioid epidemic. More than 500 people a year have been dying in New Hampshire for the last several years and the crisis does not appear to be abating.
Federal authorities focused on Hatch. In court documents, they allege Hatch made a call in the early morning hours of July 25, 2017, to arrange a pickup of drugs from a supplier in Lawrence, Mass.
He allegedly brought the drugs back to his home in New Hampshire, later distributing smaller amounts to couriers.
Hatch agreed to work with the DEA and helped authorities arrest higher-level dealers in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Hatch pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to one count of using a phone to set up a crime and faces up to four years in prison.
Correction, 7/23/19, 2:14 p.m.: Pence’s trip to New Hampshire was canceled before the vice president’s plane left the ground. The story and headline have been updated accordingly.