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Rutland County Fights Drug Problem - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland County Fights Drug Problem

Brandon, Vermont - June 1, 2008

The small town of Brandon, Vermont is about to get even smaller. Ten people from the town are facing drug charges after being nabbed during a major drug sweep this past week.

Forty-four people are facing charges as a result of the sweep, known as Operation Marble Valley. While most of the alleged drug dealers are from Rutland, more than a fourth are from smaller, surrounding towns like Brandon. "I would hope it sends a very big message that all of the law enforcement agencies within Rutland county just aren't gong to tolerate this kind of activity," says Brandon Police Chief Chris Brickell.

Roger Foster is the pastor of Lifebridge Christian Church. He says he sees the effects of Brandon's drug problems on a daily basis. "In my profession as a pastor of a church I see people who are constantly being hurt by drugs. I've heard of violence happening to people, everything from beatings to rapes."

Related crime is on the rise. Businesses around town are seeing more forged and stolen checks. Police also responded to an alarming number of break-ins last year. "I hear about homes being broken into all the time," said Brandon resident Alicia Skidmore.

In many cases thieves were targeting homes and even pharmacies in search of prescription drugs. Chief Brickell says a lot of the actual drug dealing is taking place in broad daylight. "This is stuff that takes place in parking lots, on baseball fields."

And Brandon isn't alone. Even smaller towns like Pittsford are being impacted by drugs and a rising crime rate.

Law enforcement is just part of the solution. The legislature recently allocated about $50,000 toward the problem, which will help small towns like Pittsford and Brandon-- town's that lack the manpower to fight the drug trade.

"It's hard in towns like Pittsford where you don't have a police force that have a hard time dealing with it," said Representative Peg Flory (R-Pittsford).

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

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