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Dozens arrested in Bennington drug sweep - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dozens arrested in Bennington drug sweep

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BENNINGTON, Vt. -

After six months of preparation, it was time to carry out Operation County Strike-- a major drug round up in the Bennington area.

"They are boyfriend, girlfriend, the vehicles they may be driving," a member of the tactical team said.

The tactical team was looking for Shaun Prouty and Megan Vanderwerken. They are believed to be at a home in Pownal.

Reporter Matt Henson: What is going through your mind right now?

Tactical team member: The unknowns. We know what we are going there to arrest the individuals for, but we really don't have a lot of information about the house we are going to, so it's the unknowns.

When police arrived at the home, a tactical team immediately surrounded it in case anything went wrong. An officer then approached the front door and knocked. A woman answered, but she was not who the police were looking for.

"Family members are telling us they are in another county right now, so our negotiator is going to try and reach them and see if they can get them to surrender," the tactical team member explained.

The couple agreed to turn themselves in at the Bennington Police Station.

In total, Operation County Strike targeted 63 people suspected of dealing drugs in the region.

"Crack, heroin, pills, cocaine, powder cocaine," Vt. State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance said.

Local authorities say the growing drug problem in Bennington became too much for them to handle, so they asked state police for help. Investigators decided a massive drug roundup was the right approach.

"Sometimes when you make a quick arrest, there goes the show, meaning that investigation has ended. We needed this investigation to continue to make sure we rounded up as many people as we could," L'Esperance said.

By the end of the day most of the suspects were in custody. Police say it was a mix of local dealers and dealers from out of state. Many have been arrested before on drug charges. And the arrests are also expected to impact the growing gang population in the Bennington area.

"We are not done in Bennington," Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said. "We will continue to work hard, pushing back and keeping the less desirables out of the community."

State police announced late Wednesday that 47 people were taken into custody during the drug sweep. Altogether they face over 300 charges, most of them felonies. Some could face life in prison as habitual offenders.

Click here for the arrest list from Vermont State Police.

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