• US Attorney to hold drug summit in Rutland
     | April 06,2013

    The message U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin wants to send to people coming to Vermont — and Rutland in particular — to sell drugs is simple. “The main message for those folks who think they can make a pretty penny coming to Rutland to sell heroin or other drugs is ‘Think again. There are significant costs for doing so,’” Coffin said Friday.

    In recent years, federal prosecutors have worked quietly but with increased efforts to coordinate the efforts of federal law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute out-of-state drug dealers doing business in Vermont.

    On Monday, the U.S. Attorney is coming to Rutland where he will be joined by other federal, state and local law enforcement members for a press conference to talk about federal drug interdiction efforts in or affecting Rutland County. The meeting with members of the media will take place at 2 p.m. in the federal prosecutors office inside the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Rutland.

    Federal law enforcement efforts in the region are nothing new and they’ve been escalating over time.

    Last year, members of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobbacco, Firearms and Explosives worked side-by-side with city police and the Vermont State Police Drug Task Force on a number of cases. The cooperative venture included some high profile patrols during the summer and the roundup of 10 people who were arrested after prolonged ATF investigations in September.

    Earlier this year, a member of the city’s police force was assigned to serve as a liaison working from the ATF offices inside the courthouse. During the press conference on Monday, Coffin said he wants to highlight those cooperative ventures and other cases that federal investigators and prosecutors are pursuing that might not be as visible to residents in Rutland or other Vermont communities.

    “We’ve been working on developing more consistent (Drug Enforcement Administration) efforts to pursue these out-of-state operations to their source,” Coffin said.

    In recent years, law enforcement officials have said that the majority of the drug traffic in Rutland originated in inner city New York — especially the borough of Brooklyn. Heroin is the most highly trafficked and abused drug, officials say.

    Rutland Police Chief James Baker said he was told this week that police in New York stopped a car with 1,000 bags of heroin bound for Rutland.

    “To these guys, that’s a daily trip but it’s still a significant amount of heroin,” the chief said.

    It’s also an indicator, Baker added, that the war on drugs locally can’t be won until a way is found to decrease the demand for illegal drugs and heroin in particular.

    “The amount coming here is indicative of the problem,” the chief said. “That’s why it’s so important that we get the methadone clinic here. It’s a problem that’s not going to go away while the demand here is so high.

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