"The level of addiction in the City of Rutland is mind boggling," said Rutland Police Chief James Baker.
Chief Baker says the heroin problem in the city is on the rise, but that police collaboration with state and federal law enforcement is making a difference.
"Dedicated more resources to Rutland area to deal with this problem from the Federal side, than we have done in my experience. And we have worked closely together both in terms of strategies and targeting to go after the offenders," said Tristram Coffin, The U.S. Attorney for Vermont.
The collaboration began in July after a massive drug bust on Strongs Avenue, where a New York drug dealer was in possession of over $100,000 worth of heroin.
Chief Baker says the heroin is primarily coming from New York City, but efforts from the DEA have tracked dealers to a variety of other cities like Holyoke and Springfield, Massachusetts.
"From the DEA perspective we are going to do everything we can to reach out and find you and bring you back to Vermont to face justice," said the DEA's Jeff Boobar.
But investigators say that stopping the supply is tough without enough treatment options to stop the demand for drugs. They welcome a new treatment facility planned for Rutland. "We don't have the ability to get folks the treatment like some other parts of the state and I think because of that, that is actually driving up the number of folks that are coming to this area providing product. Because the market is here as a result of the depth of the addiction," Chief Baker said.
The ongoing efforts of the cooperative law enforcement effort includes increased compliance checks, in-depth FBI investigations and documentation, and drawing upon information from the community. Chief Baker says he encourages Rutland residents to use the police department tip line for any information. And there is one message that he hopes is heard across the East Coast. "If you are thinking about coming to the City of Rutland to start an enterprise dealing illegal drugs, that the federal government is standing side by side with us and you are going to have the consequences of the federal government," he said.
Since the collaboration began in July, there have been 30 defendants charged in federal court. Police say they do not have exact numbers, but say that number of arrests is substantially higher than usual. As the agencies continue to work together Chief Baker says he hopes to see an improved quality of life in the city by fall.