Police: Tinmouth raid nets $30,000 of heroin
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | February 06,2013
Tinmouth is known to most outsiders for its pastoral landscape and quiet country living.
But to the head of the Vermont State Police narcotics investigation unit, the community is just the latest small town in the state to be used as a hiding spot for drug dealers trying to avoid the attention of law enforcement. “Unfortunately, we’re starting to see a trend across the state now of drug distributors setting up outside of city centers,” said Lt. Matthew Birmingham. “It’s a shock at first to see $30,000 worth of heroin in Tinmouth. But don’t kid yourself, those drugs were destined for Rutland.”
The heroin Birmingham referred to Tuesday was seized Monday during a state police raid at 661 East Road where police also arrested the home’s owner, 40-year-old Alan H. Willis.
Willis, who appeared in court wearing black pajama pants covered with Tony the Tiger cartoons and the Frosted Flakes logo, pleaded innocent Tuesday in Rutland criminal court to felony charges of heroin trafficking and selling as well as a misdemeanor charge of possessing narcotics. Judge William Cohen set bail at $200,000 for Willis who remained in jail Tuesday evening.
The raid in Tinmouth comes on the heels of similar drug busts made in recent months in small communities such as Chester in Windsor County and the Addison County communities of Ferrisburgh and Leicester.
In Tinmouth, state police executed a search warrant at Willis’ home Monday night following two undercover drug deals in which Willis allegedly sold more than $800 worth of heroin to an informant working with police, according to court records.
During a search of the home, police say they found about 1,500 bags of heroin weighing 47.8 grams inside a safe. Willis allegedly told investigators that he bought the heroin earlier Monday in New York.
The highest drug offense allowed under state law — trafficking — requires only 3.5 grams of heroin to prosecute.
If convicted of all the charges, Willis would face up to 56 years in jail.
Three other people found inside the home, including a juvenile, weren’t arrested, but Birmingham said police are eyeing more arrests and are working with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents to possibly bring federal charges in the case.
“It’s a huge amount of drugs,” Birmingham said. “We’re seeing more of these distributors moving into rural areas and with greater amounts of drugs. It’s a big concern.”
Like most of Vermont’s smaller communities, Tinmouth doesn’t have a police department — relying instead on patrols by state police and local constables to keep the peace.
Tinmouth Constable Ray LaMoria — who works as a police detective in Rutland — said Tuesday that he’s not surprised that drug dealers would seek out a small community like his to hide out in, but he said the raid shouldn’t change anyone’s view of the town.
“What better place for them to hide out in? We’re not immune to criminal activity just like any other town in Vermont,” he said.