NAMES HAVE CHANGED TO PROTECT THE SUBJECT.
“He didn’t explain, he didn’t give me the deets. He didn’t say I would be bringing back 34 grams of heroin in my pussy,” Terry said. “He didn’t tell me that.”
Sitting on a porch in Barre, Vermont where Terry lives on furlough she recalled how she got arrested for trafficking heroin.
Her friend told her to take a ride with him to New Hampshire. “He said he just wants to pick up a little bit of dope. He said, ‘the dope around here sucks. Lets go for a ride.’”
Terry said he wasn’t clear about how much dope he wanted to pick up or how exactly it would be transported back to Vermont.
An informant told police that Terry’s friend was on his way back from Nashua, New Hampshire with heroin.
Therry described the police officers that pulled them over as nice.
“I think they knew I was roped into something.”
She said when the K9 unit pulled onto the scene, she began to sweat. Her friend’s heart was beating so hard the police officer could see it through his shirt, according to an affidavit from Vermont State Police.
The police knew there were narcotics somewhere because, according to Terry, the dog “He could smell it on the seat,” she recalled.
The police then made an educated guess that the drugs were inside of Terry. They told her that they could either take her back to the barracks where she could remove the heroin. Or, it could be removed from her at the hospital.
“I pretty much threw myself under the bus,” she said. She said a search warrant is needed to remove something from a body. She regrets willingly removing the heroin at the barracks. “You don’t know what your rights are because they don’t tell you.”
She was busted with 34 grams of raw heroin. The local newspaper wrote that the value of that was $22,000 but Terry said it would more likely be worth $40,000 on the street, once it was cut with other products. She was promised $1,000 and a few grams of free heroin for the trip.
When her picture was published in the paper alongside an article about her arrest, she was humiliated.
“It was the worst day of my life,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “I don’t want to be known around the town I grew up in as a fuckin’ drug smuggling addict.”
Not long before the smuggling incident, she had relapsed. Terry attributed that set back to the death of her dog. Before that, she was clean for six years.
“Its a fucked up situation. I just wish I could take it back,” she said, while crying. “It’s the only thing I want is to take back that mistake. If I could have one wish, I wouldn’t ask to be rich, or anything like that. I just want to take back that mistake.”
With the kind of charge she had, it’s really a 30 year felony. But being a first time offender and never being in any kind of legal trouble before, Terry said she got off easy.
She was in a correctional facility from March of 2015 to May.
“It’s not in units. They put drug felons and baby killers and cold-blooded murderers in the same place,” she said.
Her roommate, for a few days, was a known murderer in Vermont.
“To take somebody’s life in cold blood like that is way different than making a mistake and muling drugs,” Terry said. “She would look at me a lot and rock. When she was my roommate I couldn’t sleep.”
She described the atmosphere of the jail as animalistic and cruel.
“I’ve never been bullied (back in school.) I was never picked on, but in jail I definitely was. People would intimidate me, I think it’s because I cried a lot. I’m tiny.”
Terry said one girl kept calling her a rat, while out on the jail yard.
“Finally I stood up at the stainless steel picnic table and said ‘I ain’t no fuckin rat. ‘She swung at me and hit me.”
When she did eventually make friends, they were not honest.
“Any friend you’re gonna make, number one she ain’t gonna tell you her real story. She’s gonna blow smoke up your ass. That’s why I remembered everyone’s name in there and I Googled them when I got out.” When she looked up their stories, they were much different in the news than what was told to Terry.
“I didn’t think this was where my life would be when I was 33 and I certainly didn’t think, and I don’t want to sound pretentious or that I’m better than anyone else, but you don’t ever think you’re going to be in that kind of place with those kinds of people.”
She now works seven days a week doing multiple jobs and spending as much time in nature as possible.
story / Gina Tron
illustrations / Agata Królak