BENNINGTON - Seventy-five bags of a substance suspected to be heroin and $1,000 cash were seized and three men were taken into custody Friday when Bennington Police executed a search warrant at 46 Pageant St.
According to Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, Kal-Joe Szabo, 71, owner of the home, was charged with allowing the dispensing of heroin in a dwelling.
A tenant, Alfred M. Hickey, 43, was charged with obstruction of justice; and a second tenant, Thomas A. Keith, 41, was charged with possession of heroin, sale of heroin, trafficking of heroin and possession of a controlled substance (i.e. morphine). Szabo, Hickey and Keith were taken to the Bennington Police Department for processing.
A 15-year-old juvenile who was at the house at the time the "no knock" warrant was served was transported to Bennington Police Department and was later released to representatives of the Vermont Department of Children and Families.
Two other children who inhabit the home and were in school during the police action were also referred to DCF, according to Doucette. Including Bennington Police officers and Special Response Team members, a total of 16 law enforcement officers from the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, Vermont State Police, Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, Vermont Department of Liquor Control and United States Customs and Border Protection participated in the search warrant execution, which began at roughly 8:30 a.m.
A Customs and Border Protection patrol helicopter provided aerial support for the officers on the ground. In the event that a suspect flees, that helicopter uses infrared technology to track them and relay that information to officers on the ground, police said. There was some resistance from Hickey as officers took him into custody. Keith and Szabo were apprehended without incident, however. Doucette noted that police had been investigating drug-related activity at the house for a couple of months.
"Over the last two weeks, that activity intensified," he noted. Those who live in the neighborhood, which Doucette described as a "very quiet" area inhabited by many families with children, have grown increasingly distraught by drug activity at 46 Pageant St. in recent weeks.
"With their help and cooperation we were able to obtain a search warrant," Doucette said. That search warrant's scope included items related to the sale and distribution of heroin and illicit narcotics at that property, according to Doucette.
Bennington Police Department's investigation into trafficking of heroin and narcotics at the residence continues.
By early Friday afternoon, several hand-made cards of appreciation from children and adults supporting the action on Pageant Street had been dropped off in the lobby of Bennington Police Department, Doucette said.
"People are fed up with the drug activity - they want something done about it," he said. "There are so many positive things happening in the Town of Bennington, so many great events local organizations are putting on such as Mayfest that's coming up."
Those positive community events are the sorts of things people want Bennington to be known for, he said - not for drugs.
Doucette added, "Hopefully this takes care of the problem on Pageant Street."
The Bennington County States Attorney's office assisted with the investigation and will be handling the prosecution of Keith, Szabo and Hickey, according to Doucette.
Contact Michelle Karas at firstname.lastname@example.org or @bannereditor