Police net 24 in two-county drug bust
By Josh O'Gorman
STAFF WRITER | March 19,2010
Two dozen people, including one person already in custody, are facing felony drug charges after a sweep through Windham and Windsor counties Thursday.
The Southern Vermont Drug Task Force conducted the roundup as part of Operation Connecticut Valley. While the arrests came suddenly, the operation has been in the works for some time, said State Police Detective Sgt. John Merrigan.
"This has been going on for 18 months in one fashion or another, but has really ramped up during the last eight months or so," said Merrigan, who is the supervisor of the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force.
The sweep targeted residents in 12 towns across the two counties, with the majority coming from Springfield, Bellows Falls and Brattleboro. The charges included the sale of crack cocaine, heroin and OxyContin.
While most people received citations to appear in court in either April or May, one individual was arraigned Thursday.
Amanda Knight, 22, of Springfield, pleaded innocent in White River Junction District Court to two counts of selling cocaine, one count of selling heroin, and aiding in the commission of a felony. Knight, who was placed on parole in 2007 for selling cocaine, was held without bail for allegedly violating her parole and is lodged at the Springfield prison.
In one case, police went to a prison to issue a citation to someone already facing drug charges. Police cited Melissa Davis, 42, of Windsor, for selling crack cocaine.
However, Davis is already being held in the Swanton prison on charges of heroin trafficking, selling heroin, selling crack cocaine and possessing crack cocaine after she was arrested in Brattleboro in December for allegedly having 238 bags of heroin and 53 grams of crack cocaine.
"She wasn't exactly happy to get the new citation," Merrigan said of Davis.
Those arrested were alleged street-level drug dealers, who for the most part worked independently. But, about 30 percent of them were part of larger network with a common source, most likely in Springfield, Mass., and Hartford, Conn., Merrigan said.
When the time came to make arrests, the task force reached out to municipal and county law enforcement agencies, which provided about 40 officers to assist the task force, Merrigan said.
Police are still looking for five people they could not find Thursday, including Rebecca Goodnow, 22, of Bellows Falls, for allegedly selling a stimulant and possessing stolen property; Miguel Guzman, 31, of White River Junction, for allegedly selling cocaine; and three people for allegedly selling crack cocaine: Dennis Santos, 22, of Guilford; Michael Gonzales, 21, of Springfield and Jason Cray, 22, of Bellows Falls.
Assistant Attorney General Annika Frostick, who is prosecuting the Windsor County cases, said arrest warrants will be issued for those five people. She said the sweep was a long time coming.
"This area has had a problem with drugs for some time now and this was what was needed," she said.
Other citations Thursday included Tammy Bahrakis, 28, of Bellows Falls, possessing and selling crack cocaine; Tammy Birkheimer, 35, of Westminster, selling narcotics and stimulants; Bradley Blais, 27, transient, selling cocaine; Nicholas Brown, 29, of Springfield, selling cocaine; James Caro, 26, of Brattleboro, selling crack cocaine; Jason Chaffee, 26, of Weathersfield, selling crack cocaine; Barton Coburn, 33, of Londonderry, selling cocaine; Thomas Daniels, 36, of Springfield, selling cocaine; Naomi Gould, 26, of Springfield, selling crack cocaine; Jason Greene, 44, of Londonderry, selling heroin; Kevin Greenslit, 48, of Springfield, selling marijuana and OxyContin; Benjamin Harper, 25, of Hartford, selling heroin; Nyoakla Hartley, 37, of Westminster, selling narcotics and stimulants; Peter Hayward, 62, of Windham, selling cocaine; Grahame Heavener, 26, of Bellows Falls, selling crack cocaine; Zachary McNeill, 18, of Cavendish, selling cocaine; Matthew Morrie, 24, of Springfield, selling heroin; David Muise, 45, of Brattleboro, selling marijuana; Lazzel Plaster, 38, of Windsor, selling marijuana; Barbara Robare, 23, of Hartford, selling heroin; BillieJo Wilder, of Bellows Falls, selling marijuana and methadone; and Patrick Wilson, 24, of Springfield, selling cocaine.
Eric Francis contributed to this story.