BENNINGTON — A police raid of a building known for drug-related activity resulted in at least six arrests on numerous counts of drug trafficking and conspiracy to sell heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine.
Bennington Police raided 318 Gage St. Tuesday evening after a two-month investigation netted multiple weapons, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, and thousands of dollars in cash.
Officers from Bennington observed regular vehicle and foot traffic in and out of the residence at all hours over the two months. Officers also saw individuals — some known to police through recent interactions and drug arrests — visit the residence for short periods.
Information provided to police by confidential sources detailed how numerous individuals were selling crack cocaine and heroin/fentanyl to individuals throughout Bennington County and New York, with dealers from Springfield, Mass., selling from an apartment at 318 Gage St.
According to the police affidavit, sources also told the investigators that the individuals involved were gang-affiliated and possessed firearms.
When asked about possible gang affiliation in this incident, Bennington Police Detective Sergeant Jason Burnham told the Banner, “There are some ties we are looking into, a possible offshoot of the Latin Kings coming from the Springfield area of Massachusetts. We think there’s maybe an affiliation somewhere, but actual gang members, I’m not so sure.”
When asked if there’s been an uptick in gang-related incidents or crime in Bennington, he said, “We’ve seen some tags, some signage around that gives us concern, tags from the Latin Kings and some from some L.A. gangs, but we think the West Coast thing might just be some kids copying something old.”
On Tuesday, after securing a search warrant for the premises, officers forced entry through the front door. Police said multiple people attempted to flee. Those arrested on charges related to illegal substances were Oday Valez-Perez, 19, Keniel Santiago, 19, and Johans Rivera, 19, all of Springfield, Mass., Scott Kipp, 32, and Amber Burgess, 40, both of Bennington and Jorge Ardono, 19.
An unidentified juvenile male managed to escape temporarily by running out the back door and was later found in possession of a pistol with a red dot laser and hollow-point bullets. He was arrested and is being charged as a juvenile.
An eighth individual who pulled up to the residence during the raid, Paige Wilkins, 37, of Bennington, was also detained on a warrant. Her arrest was not related to the illegal substances, cash or guns found in the raid.
Over 59.3 grams of marijuana, 49.1 grams of crack cocaine, 18 grams of powder cocaine, Oxycodone pills and 1,153 glassine envelopes filled with 23.4 grams of heroin/fentanyl, with a street value of over $24,900, were seized, as well as about $10,062 in cash. Also seized were numerous loaded handguns, including a Glock 23 .40 caliber with a 29 round magazine that appeared to be modified to fire fully automatic.
Adult defendants face two counts, heroin trafficking and conspiracy, which carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, or a maximum fine of $1 million or both if convicted. Felony conspiracy to sell, deliver, manufacture or cultivate a regulated drug, which carries a sentence of not more than 20 years, carries a fine of not more than $1 million, or both. The defendants were issued conditions of bail in the amount of $50,000. It was unclear at press time whether any of the individuals were released.
The 18-year-old juvenile will face charges in Family Court. An 18-year-old in Vermont is still considered a minor in the eyes of the law.