It's a Vermont Drug Task Force mission six months in the making. Operation Precision Valley put more than 100 police officers to work tracking down heroin and cocaine dealers in the greater Springfield area.
We rode along with Sgt. Garry Scott and Senior Trooper Travis Valcourt as they attempted to take Ashlee Stilwell into custody for allegedly selling narcotics. The troopers tracked the 24-year-old to a store in Weston where she worked. She was one of 33 people arrested during Wednesday's operation.
"The result of today's arrests will certainly have an impact on the area long term," Vt. State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance said.
Authorities say they were three arrests shy of their goal. Twenty-six Vermonters were taken into custody, including one Springfield city employee. Seven suspects from New Jersey were also arrested. All the defendants were booked at the barracks, and then shipped to Windsor County court for arraignments. Police say the alleged out-of-state dealers have violent criminal records and gang affiliations.
"There's a group coming up here, we've named them the Jersey boys," Springfield Police Chief Douglas Johnston said.
Johnston says they've settled in his city because demand and profit margins are high. Residents say drug deals have become a common sight and addiction is taking its toll on their community.
"A lot of community resources get burned up fighting this epidemic on the streets around here and it affects everybody," said Stephen Greene of Springfield.
Police say roundups like this one cut off the drug supply temporarily, but authorities need to work with community partners to achieve a long-term solution.
"It's one thing to address the supply, but we need to address the demand," Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said. "We're going to be calling not only on the education components in the community, but we need to look at rehabilitative approaches."
And police say the fight is far from over. Street enforcement must continue to prevent a new round of dealers from replacing the ones this operation locked up.
"We're not going to let them get comfortable," Johnston said. "We're going to keep hitting them as hard as we can. It may be a long time before they get the message but we're not going to give up the fight on our end."
Police say three suspects remain on the loose-- Luis Rodrigues of Springfield, Vt., and Anthony Figheroa and Daniel Ramos of New Jersey. If convicted, each of the 36 suspects faces 5-20 years in prison.
Authorities say since the operation cut off the drug supply, they expect a significant rise in addicts showing up at area hospitals seeking detox.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:34:35 GMT
It looks like our region escaped any major flooding resulting from Tuesday's heavy rains. There were localized areas of high water and damage, like a road washout on Mud Hollow Road in Kirby. Water remainsMore >>
It looks like our region escaped any major flooding resulting from Tuesday's heavy rains.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:58 AM EDT2014-04-16 14:58:11 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
A Montgomery farmer and a sheriff's deputy joined forces for a daring rescue to help a woman who got trapped in her truck by rising floodwaters.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:08 AM EDT2014-04-16 15:08:35 GMT
If you thought the weather Tuesday really stunk, you weren't alone. Apparently all the rain and the rushing rivers were too much for even a beaver. WCAX Producer Diane Landry caught video Tuesday in MiltonMore >>
Apparently all the rain and the rushing rivers in our region Tuesday were too much for even a beaver.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:09 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:09:50 GMT
If you think this spring has been filled with strange weather-- cold, then hot, then flooding, then snow-- well, we have a reminder that fluctuating weather is not all that unusual in Vermont. SheldonMore >>
If you think this spring has been filled with strange weather-- cold, then hot, then flooding, then snow-- well, we have a reminder that fluctuating weather is not all that unusual in Vermont.More >>