SAINT JOHNSBURY, Vt.–Sixteen individuals were arrested on federal and state drug charges in a multiagency investigation focused on drug trafficking probe that included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Acting HSI Boston Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina joined United States Attorney for Vermont Christina E. Nolan plus representatives of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations, the Vermont Drug Task Force, the Vermont State Police, the St. Johnsbury (Vermont) Police Department, and other local law enforcement for the announcement in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
During the month-long operation conducted by federal, state, local, and county officers, and coordinated with federal and state prosecutors, law enforcement arrested or charged 16 individuals, searched three residences, and seized approximately 700 bags of fentanyl and heroin, 100 grams of cocaine base, two firearms, and $4,000 in drug proceeds. Two of the sixteen defendants remained fugitives at the time of the announcement with 14 arrested and in custody.
United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan added: “Today, as we did earlier this year in Brattleboro, we announce the results of a team effort by law enforcement to combat drug trafficking in one of the hardest hit areas of the state. The Northeast Kingdom is suffering greatly under the weight of the drug crisis, and we deployed a sustained surge of enforcement resources to bring consequences to those selling deadly drugs in the area. The messages are simple. Out-of-state dealers should not come to Vermont; if they do, they will face serious consequences, no matter where in the state they do business. Those addicted Vermonters involved in the drug trade will also be held accountable. Today, we urge those Vermonters to turn in their dealers and seek treatment. We want them to have their lives back.”
“Opioid abuse is at epidemic levels in Vermont,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Let these arrests serve as an example to those who distribute poisons like fentanyl and heroin to the citizens of St. Johnsbury, that DEA will aggressively pursue and hold you accountable. This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative law enforcement efforts in Vermont and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
“The success of this initiative is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the law enforcement professionals in the region working in a truly collaborative fashion,” said Kelly D. Brady, special agent in charge of ATF’s Boston Field Division. “We could not ask for a better group of professionals to work with toward the shared goal of reducing violent crime in the City of St. Johnsbury and throughout Vermont.”
“These arrests send a clear message that drug traffickers have no place in our community,” said James N. Hendricks, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany field office. “Thanks to the incredible collaboration between our federal, state, and local partners, 700 bags of heroin and 100 grams of crack were taken off the streets. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, remains focused on stopping the movement and sale of drugs on our streets and ensuring that our neighborhoods are safe.”
“The Vermont State Police and the Vermont Drug Task Force recognize the importance of combining federal, state and local law enforcement agencies into a concentrated team effort to combat drug trafficking in Vermont,” said Major Dan Trudeau. “Utilizing best police practices in response to violent crime, the opiate crisis, and drug trafficking will result in safer Vermont communities.”
St. Johnsbury Police Chief Tim Page added, “The St. Johnsbury Police Department would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DEA, Homeland Security, FBI, U.S. Marshals and the Vermont State Police for their efforts in the recent actions against those suspected of drug activity in St. Johnsbury. A cooperative and sustained initiative sends a strong message that such activity will not be condoned or tolerated. Members of the St. Johnsbury Police Department remain committed to holding those responsible accountable.”
The operation stemmed from careful planning and collaboration by Vermont law enforcement at all levels. In addition to HSI support and coordination, the enforcement surge involved the participation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations. the Vermont Drug Task Force, the Vermont State Police, the St. Johnsbury (Vermont) Police Department, the Newport (Vermont) Police Department, the Lyndonville (Vermont) Police Department with critical support provided by the Office of the Caledonia County (Vermont) State’s Attorney and the Office of the Orleans County (Vermont) State’s Attorney. The Office of U.S. Attorney for Vermont Christina E. Nolan will prosecute those individuals arrested and charged with federal offenses.