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Rutland drug raid uncovers possible human trafficking operation

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 8:03 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2021 at 9:13 AM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - What began as a narcotics drug bust in Rutland early Friday had led police to a suspected human trafficking operation.

Vermont State Police say search warrants were executed at homes on Baxter and Maple Streets and were part of a long-term narcotics investigation involving Rutland City Police, Vermont State Police, and Homeland Security.

“The neighbor at that point had told me to hunker down, they thought someone was running,” said Marie Roberts, who lives in the neighborhood where authorities swarmed. She heard the helicopter around 6:50 a.m. Friday morning and went outside to see what was going on. “people started running out of the houses. As a mom, it scares the (expletive) out of you.”

Roberts says there have been issues in this area for years. She says she has witnessed drug deals, overdoses, and found baggies of drugs in her backyard. “how are you supposed to let your kids walk when there are needles? I took my son to the park down here on the corner and there were needles,” she said.

But inside the Maple Street apartment building, authorities found more than drugs. They say three women were being held behind a padlocked door and multiple chain-link storage areas. Investigators suspect human trafficking.

Rutland Mayor David Allaire suspects the raids have been planned for a while, given the heavy response from law enforcement. “Hopefully several people, if not more, off the streets,” he said. Allaire says this is an area that is known for drug activity.

“It doesn’t just affect that one person, it affects everyone around you, it affects the whole community,” Roberts said. She says she and other neighbors knew nothing about the alleged human trafficking going on behind closed doors here.

The investigation is ongoing and authorities say more details will be released if and when criminal charges are filed.

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