RUTLAND — A large drug-running operation involving Rutland residents and New York City-area individuals has been broken up in a sweeping crackdown by local, state and federal authorities, the Vermont Office of the United States Attorney announced Friday.
In recent months, law enforcement have arrested 27 people on drug trafficking or firearms-related charges, including possession of heroin, cocaine and more than $35,000 of suspected drug proceeds.
The sweep was part of a multi-jurisdictional effort targeting Rutland and the surrounding area, and involved seizure of 14 firearms — including two AR-style rifles — about 148 grams of fentanyl and heroin, approximately 260 grams of cocaine base, and approximately 50 grams of cocaine.
“The Rutland area is suffering greatly under the weight of the drug crisis and related violence, and we deployed a sustained surge of enforcement resources to bring consequences to those selling deadly drugs and violating federal gun laws in that region of the state,” Vermont U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan said.
“The messages are simple — out-of-state dealers should not come to Vermont; if they do, they will face serious consequences,” she said.
Collaborating together on the effort were state and national agencies including Homeland Security, FBI, ICE, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and state and local police. Coordination was provided through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The aim of the OCDETF program is to identify and disrupt the most serious cases of trafficking and money laundering.
Nolan said out-of-state drug dealers should be on notice that if they come to Vermont they will face dogged law enforcement. She added that Vermonters involved in such crimes will be caught and prosecuted.
“We urge those Vermonters to turn in their dealers and seek treatment,” she said. “We want them to have their lives back.”
Special Agent in Charge Kelly Brady, of the ATF Boston Field Division, says agents are keeping a close watch on Vermont.
“These arrests are indicative of ATF’s commitment to rid our communities of dangerous drugs and illegal firearms,” Brady said. “Citizens in Vermont can rest assured that the ATF and our law enforcement partners are determined to ensure these communities remain safe and a great place to live. The success of this investigation is an outstanding example of our law enforcement community’s resolve and determination.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian Boyle also praised the collaborative efforts.
“Illegal drug distribution ravages the very foundations of our families and communities here in the Green Mountain State,” he said. “This operation demonstrates the strength of collaborative local, state and federal law enforcement efforts in Vermont and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
The discovery of 260 grams of cocaine base — also known as crack cocaine — reinforce warnings by Nolan last year that stimulant-class drugs are surging in Vermont.
“Crack cocaine, powdered cocaine, methamphetamine — really every kind of drug that can send a person down the wrong path — those are making a comeback in Vermont,” she said in November.
At least 40 grams of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl is cited in the release, and a 19-year-old from Brooklyn New York is charged with carrying it. A middle-aged man from Rutland was charged with the distribution of fentanyl. In all, 11 people from Rutland are facing charges in federal court.
Among those facing federal charges are at least seven from out of state, including four from New York, two from New Jersey, one from Massachusettes and one from Pennsylvania.
The charges against the defendants are allegations only, and the defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.