Posted at: 09/25/2013 2:15 PM
| Updated at: 09/25/2013 5:39 PM
By: Bill Lambdin
BENNINGTON - Law enforcement calls it “Operation Strike Two”. It's an extension of a drug raid in January that netted more than 60 suspects. This time the number of suspects is 23.
Police hope that's because the message is getting out that selling illegal drugs in Bennington County will be risky.
Bennington County authorities praised the citizenry Wednesday afternoon, noting the numerous tips and words of encouragement they've been receiving since they first started aggressively targeting heroin, cocaine and other illicit drug sales.
22 pictures have been put out outside the Shaftsbury State Police barracks. Three frequent flyers from an earlier raid. 19 who did not get the message after a similar but larger series of arrests in January.
“People come into the community and they set up shop per se. That also leads to other issues that we’re seeing in Bennington County – residential burglaries, burglaries of businesses,” said Paul Doucette.
Most of the defendants are accused of dealing in heroin or cocaine. A few have lesser charges.
“The overwhelming majority of them are individuals I’ve seen multiple times before,” said Erica Marthage, State’s Attorney.
Recognizing that the drugs come in easily from suppliers who are often located in neighboring states, the Vermont police say they're working much more closely than in previous times with their cross-border counterparts.
“I’m not saying we don’t have drugs here in Vermont, certainly we do. But we do see drugs coming into our area from Massachusetts and New York. We had several law enforcement agencies from Massachusetts in Bennington, and we deal with New York Authorities. We have Intel meetings on a regular basis where we share information. 20 years ago everybody kind of did their own thing, and now as part of this mobile enforcement team and this concept of working together, everyone is sharing information. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful in our operations,” said Chief Doucette.
For the most part, suspects who don't make bail are being taken to jail in Rutland, roughly 50 miles away from their Bennington locations.