Several Northeast Kingdom residents are among a long list of suspected Vermont drug dealers caught in a recent roundup by law enforcement.
During the past several weeks, the Vermont Drug Task Force arrested 59 suspects on charges of selling and distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and crack cocaine. The investigations resulted in 53 individual charges of selling heroin, and 43 individual charges of selling crack cocaine, among other charges.
“The Drug Task Force conducts hundreds of investigations annually into various levels of illegal drug activity and is committed to aggressively pursuing those people who sell or distribute these poisonous drugs, or who aid individuals who are selling them,” noted a release from the task force. “These drugs are dangerous to the person taking them and invite violence into our communities.”
A dozen arrests were made in the Northeast Kingdom as part of the sweep. The task force credited assistance from Vermont State Police and the Newport and St. Johnsbury police departments with the arrests.
Eight of the 12 people arrested in the NEK are from Newport. They are Aaron Camp, 30, Monica Capron, 40, Kayla Wright, 25, Kassandra Medellin-Oliver, 32, Justin Morgan, 27, Erik Polite, 39, Ashley Penniman, 35, Allen Marsh, 50.
Camp faces one count of selling heroin and two counts of selling crack cocaine. He is scheduled for arraignment in Orleans Superior Court on Sept. 17.
Capron is accused of two counts of selling fentanyl. She faces arraignment in Orleans Superior Court on Sept. 17.
Wright was arrested on an allegation of one count of selling heroin and one count of selling crack cocaine. Her arraignment date has not been set.
Medellin-Oliver is accused of three counts of selling heroin. She also has no arraignment date set.
Morgan has been charged with two counts of selling crack cocaine. He is set to be arraigned in Orleans Superior Court on Sept. 17.
Polite faces one count of selling crack cocaine. He will be arraigned on Sept. 17 in Orleans Superior Court.
Penniman is scheduled to be arraigned in Orleans Superior Court on Sept. 17 and answer for a charge of selling crack cocaine.
Marsh faces four counts of selling crack cocaine. He is scheduled for arraignment in Orleans Superior Court on Sept. 17.
Newport Police Lt. Travis Bingham said the task force crackdown is the result of a lot of time, effort and collaboration.
“People can see that we are fighting the drug problem in the state,” he said.
As far as the impact for the Newport community, Bingham said the local arrests underscore the police department’s message that law enforcement is actively battling the drug problem.
“We’re trying to send the message that if you use drugs and sell drugs in this community you are going to be arrested. You’re going to end up going to court and maybe to jail,” he said.
The lieutenant said the recent eight arrests of Newport people may not have a major impact on the overall drug activity in the community, but every arrest for a drug crime is a step in the right direction.
“Every person we arrest, whether it’s a street level user or a kingpin seller, regardless, it’s work that needs to be done,” he said. Drugs taken off the street benefits the community, he said.
Additional Orleans County residents were also arrested in the task force sweep. They are Meagan Blake, 31, of Coventry, and Corey Green, 45, of Orleans.
Blake is accused of five counts of selling crack cocaine and one count of selling heroin. Her court date has not been set.
Green is accused of two counts of selling crack cocaine and one count of selling heroin. His arraignment in Orleans Superior Court is set for Sept. 17.
The final two people caught in the drug arrests in the Northeast Kingdom are not residents of the area. Edwin R. Mejia, 40, was arrested in Orleans County, but his residence is noted as New Britain, Conn. Justin T. Barlow, 27, was arrested in Caledonia County, but his town of residence is listed as Springfield, Vt.
Mejia is accused of three counts of selling crack cocaine. He will be arraigned on Sept. 17 in Orleans Superior Court.
Barlow will be arraigned in Caledonia Superior Court on Sept. 12. He faces four counts of selling crack cocaine.
During the operation, the task force partnered with the Vermont Department of Health to provide information on treatment and recovery services to those people who have a drug dependency.
“Law enforcement, public health, education, treatment, recovery supports and community engagement all go hand and hand to help prevent, reduce and eliminate the problems caused by opioid drug use,” noted the task force press release.
The Vermont State Police has a tip line and asks the public for assistance in reporting drug dealers in their communities. Tips may be submitted online at https://vsp.vermont.gov/tipsubmit.
The Vermont Department of Health also provides online resources so people can find help and a pathway to recovery: https://www.healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs.