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

16 arrested in Bennington County drug sweep

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"I appreciate the fact that they are getting some of them," said Albert Skidmore of Bennington.

Skidmore says he is thankful for the effort police are making to attack the drug problem, but worries it will forever be an uphill battle.

"There will always be others coming. And some will say, well I got caught one time... And I'll be smarter next time and won't get caught," Skidmore said.

But on Wednesday, that wasn't the case for 16 drug suspects who were picked up during a sweep across Bennington County.

This is the fourth sweep of its kind in Vermont this year and the second in Bennington. Back in January, Operation County Strike targeted 67 dealers. Now, during Operation Strike Two, three of those defendants picked up last winter were arrested again for the sale of heroin, cocaine and prescription narcotics. But authorities say that number is lower than first anticipated.

"Well, I think that number is great. I think three out of 23 is great," Bennington County Prosecutor Erica Marthage said. "When we initially did the first sweep, we were almost immediately receiving information that there were drug deals going on the next day. And that's pretty disheartening."

Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette says sweeps are expensive and do require many resources. But he says it is worth every penny.

"I think 100 percent it is absolutely effective," Doucette said.

Marthage says fewer of the higher end drug dealers are winding up in court. Police say what is needed now is for the defendants to be prosecuted and held accountable, and to keep their goals realistic.

"Quite honestly I don't think we will ever get to zero. That's our goal and that's our dream, but I don't think that will ever happen," Doucette said. "Continued use of mobile enforcement teams and people working to resolve some of the issues to try and make it better-- I think that's what we have to do."

Seven targeted dealers are still at large, but police will continue the search to bring them in for prosecution.

Click here for the list of suspects. Those listed in red were not arrested Wednesday.

Police have also conducted recent roundups in Springfield and just last week in St. Albans.

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