A Trenton woman whose federal drug trafficking case was moved from Maine to Massachusetts has pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced next year.

Shelby Kleffman, 32, was arrested in March by the FBI, who accused her and two Massachusetts men of bringing large quantities of the drugs to eastern Maine over a period of at least several months, from late 2020 to early 2021.

She faces five to 40 years behind bars, according to federal court documents. She also faces a term of supervised release between four years and life after serving her prison time, and a fine of up to $5 million.

Kleffman pleaded guilty on Aug. 26 in U.S. District Court in Boston to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, cocaine base and other controlled substances.

Her sentencing has been scheduled in Boston for Jan. 5, 2022.

Kleffman’s case is one of a handful in Maine in recent years in which federal law enforcement officials have investigated interstate drug trafficking in Maine. 

In 2019, federal officials busted a methamphetamine importation and distribution ring based in Aroostook County and charged more than a dozen people with being actively involved in the scheme. That same year, more than two dozen people in eastern Hancock and Washington counties were arrested in an FBI sweep that targeted crack, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl dealers who were bringing drugs to Maine from New York City.

In March, the two Massachusetts men and others suspected to be dealing drugs with Kleffman rented a house in Bangor through an online vacation home rental service and used it as a place for Kleffman to pick up drug deliveries, according to the FBI. Over a span of five days, just a few days before she was arrested by the FBI, Kleffman allegedly made three trips to the Bangor property from her home in Trenton to conduct drug transactions with the group, according to court documents.

The FBI said Kleffman and one of the men — Armani Minier-Tejada, 22, of Salem, Massachusetts — discussed in text conversations the importance of carrying firearms. They also discussed via text the possibility of using guns to harm or intimidate a rival drug gang in Maine believed to have connections to a man accused of shooting Kleffman’s father.

Videos on phones seized in March by the FBI from alleged conspirators in the drug ring show Minier-Tejada and other unnamed participants discharging weapons in the woods during a trip to Maine, according to federal officials.

Kleffman and Minier-Tejada allegedly discussed drug transactions by text, citing quantities and price — including one sale of 235 grams of fentanyl for $115,000. Minier-Tejada often provided drugs to Kleffman up front with the understanding that she would repay them later at a pre-agreed price, according to the FBI.

Minier-Tejada is charged in federal court in Massachusetts with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute illegal drugs, and with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Miguel Miner of Lynn, Mass., who the FBI says is Minier-Tejada’s father, also is accused of being involved in the scheme and is charged in federal court with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute illegal drugs.

Neither man has entered a plea on the charges.

In late December, around the same time the FBI says Kleffman was communicating with Minier-Tejada about guns and drug deals, a Milbridge couple allegedly forced their way into Kleffman’s home and stole two safes containing thousands of dollars in cash. Kleffman was not home at the time, police have said.

Larry Smith, 51, is accused of shooting two men during the alleged robbery while Sherry Smith, 49, is accused of trying to stab a third man and one of the men who was shot. Both are facing charges in Hancock County of attempted murder and robbery.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....