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April 16, 2019Boston, MA, United StatesNarcotics

Heroin, crack seized in Vermont drug trafficking organization takedown

16 charged or arrested as part of the probe

BOSTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont and multiple state and federal law enforcement agencies announced the seizure Tuesday of approximately 1,000 bags of heroin and 70 grams of cocaine base as part of a multiagency drug trafficking enforcement operation in and around Brattleboro, Vermont, a town hard hit by the opioid crisis in New England. The enforcement surge included the participation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Vermont State Police and state and local law enforcement in the region.

Fourteen individuals were arrested as part of the operation, with two other suspects charged but still at large. The nearly 1,000 bags of heroin and 70 grams of cocaine base were seized by law enforcement after searches conducted on three residences and one hotel room in the area. Of the 14 arrested , 12 people were charged in federal court with participation in drug trafficking crimes and two were charged in state court with drug possession crimes. Two other individuals remain at large but were charged in federal court with participation in drug trafficking crimes.

Among the federal counts filed against those arrested in the operation included charges of distribution of cocaine base; distribution of fentanyl; possession with intent to distribute heroin; communicating to facilitate the commission of a drug felony connected to an attempt to distribute narcotics; conspiracy to distribute narcotics; and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.

“Operations like this demonstrate the critically important results that can be achieved through close coordination among state, local and federal law enforcement in Vermont,” said Peter C.Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge HSI Boston. “Homeland Security Investigations is committed to maintaining our strong working relationship with our state, local and federal law enforcement colleagues in addressing the threats to public safety in the state of Vermont.”

United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan stated: “Vermont lost 110 lives to drug overdose death last year, and the County with the most of those deaths was Windham County. This is an unacceptable tragedy. There is suffering from the drug crisis in every corner of Vermont, not least of all Brattleboro, in light of its geographic proximity to dealers based in the Springfield, Massachusetts area. This coordinated operation exemplifies the teamwork of Vermont law enforcement and our collective determination to deter and bring consequences to local and out-ofstate dealers who ravage our communities. We will continue to surge federal, state, local, and county enforcement resources across the state to bring justice to those who profit from death and immense suffering. I commend this outstanding collaborative effort involving so many agencies and prosecutors’ offices.”

“Fentanyl and heroin abuse are at epidemic levels in Vermont and across the North East,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “DEA is committed to aggressively pursuing Drug Trafficking Organizations or individuals who are coming from out of state to distribute these poisons, in order to profit and destroy people’s lives. This investigation demonstrates the strength of collaborative local, county, state and federal law enforcement efforts in Vermont and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

“The operation was a large scale event with significant results directly connected to the strong partnerships that exist among our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. As made evident by this event, the criminal element has no boundaries. This operation is a testament to our commitment to pursue and disrupt illegal activity in innovative and effective ways throughout Vermont,” stated U.S. Marshal Bradley J. LaRose.

“Effective coordination between federal, state, and local agencies is essential for us to identify and disrupt drug trafficking organizations,” said James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the FBI. “Together, our agencies prevented 70 grams of crack cocaine and nearly 1,000 bags of heroin from being sold on our streets. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to investigating and bringing justice to the individuals arrested in this operation. Anyone who harms our communities with their drug dealing should know we're coming for you.”

The enforcement action was coordinated by multiple local, state and federal law enforcement authorities that work in New England including the Drug Enforcement Administration ; United States Marshals Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Brattleboro (VT) Police Department; the Vermont Drug Task Force; the Vermont State Police; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air/Marine Unit; and New Hampshire Drug Task Force. Critical support was provided by the Office of the Windham County State’s Attorney; the Vermont Attorney General’s Office; and the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont is prosecuting the federal charges filed against defendants arrested in this operation.

Updated: 04/17/2019