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Break in battle to shut down "drug pipeline"

BENNINGTON, Vt. -- A big break in Vermont's battle against heroin.  Three people under arrest considered "major" drug dealers and hundreds of bags of drugs are off the streets.  But, it also highlights the need for a powerful tool that one department would like to get its hands on.
They're significant arrests for police agencies in Southern Vermont but they say there's still work to be done in overcoming addiction to heroin and cutting off the source.
Most people know the drive down Route 7 to be one of a peaceful trip to the Green Mountain State.  But for some, Bennington police say, it's a heroin highway -- the route on a business trip to cash in on addiction.
'We want to make it very clear here that if you are going to distribute illegal drugs and heroin and other opiate related products or any narcotics at all we're going to be pushing back," said Bennington Police Department Chief Paul Doucette.
Three major dealers taken down in the last week between Bennington and Rutland have ties back to New York.  At least one of them also had nearly $14,000 in cash.
"Heroin down in New York City is about $6 a bag," Doucette said.  "They bring it up here they sell it for $25-30 a bag and there's a huge profit in all of this.  People here get addicted and then when they try to quit they get sick.  This has become an epidemic."
Agencies on both sides of the border have said there is a very real drug pipeline from the city to Vermont, passing right through the immediate Capital District.  These busts put a dent in it.  "Three hundred bags of heroin in to a community our size, it's scary," Doucette said.
But the department recognizes the need to work with law enforcement in New York and in Vermont to cut off the drug supply.  What might help combat the crisis -- something that's becoming more popular in ambulances and cop cars -- Narcan, or naloxone.  The nasal spray works to counteract the effect of heroin.  Two of Chief Doucette's officers have been trained on how to use it.  
"It's between $25 and $30 per unit," Doucette said. "We have here 24 full time sworn people and we have a couple of part time people.  If I issued that to everybody it would be quite costly."
Doucette says he wants his department to have Narcan because his business is that of life safety -- cost aside.  However, he says the Bennington Rescue Squad does have it and does respond to calls using Narcan now.
 
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