Vermont police make largest sweep in state history

Posted at: 01/16/2013 5:57 PM
Updated at: 01/17/2013 12:07 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

BENNINGTON, Vt. - Police were out in force Wednesday, raiding homes and apartments like they've never done before, looking to haul in 63 alleged drug dealers and users.

The raids were the climax of a months-long investigation. Police call it a success, arresting more than 45 people.

"It was a long, drawn out investigation with the goal to take off as many people dealing drugs here in Bennington and Bennington County as we possible could," said Col. Tommy L'Esperance of the Vermont State Police.

Calling it "Operation County Strike," more than 100 state, local and federal officers swept in early Wednesday morning.

Police say they met with resistance from only a couple of the more than 45 suspects. It happened on Pleasant Street. But they say when the suspects saw what they were up against-- dozens of officers and support from a helicopter hovering overhead -- they decided to give themselves up.

"There are times when an overwhelming show of force will cause people to surrender," said L'Esperance.

Those arrested are accused of selling heroin, crack, marijuana and prescription pain killers. They range in age from 17 to 61.

Police say their work isn't done, but Wednesday's arrests will make Bennington safer.

"We are not done in Bennington. We will continue to work hard to make sure that we are pushing back and keeping the less than desirables out of our community," said Chief Paul Doucette of the Bennington Police Department.