BELLOWS FALLS -- The Bellows Falls Police Department on Friday led an early morning raid on a number of suspected drug houses throughout the region.
By the time the action was over, 12 people were arrested in Bellows Falls, Rockingham, Saxtons River, Chester and Springfield
Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake said the arrests followed two months of street level investigation, and all of those arrested were not repeat offenders.
"This only happened because of a lot of very hard work by this department," Lake said. "We have been seeing more and more activity and the problem seems to be as bad as it has ever been."
Those arrested were cited for selling and possessing marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs, along with aiding and abetting in the sale of regulated drugs.
The alleged dealers acted largely independently of each other, Lake said, adding that hard drugs were involved in a number of the arrests.
He said more arrests may follow from the investigation.
Lake said police departments from Chester, Springfield, Dover and Brattleboro helped out with the raids, which were carried out around 7 a.m.
The Windham County Sheriff's Department and the Vermont State Police also took part in the arrests.
"We got a lot of help on this," said Lake.
The Bellows Falls Police Department started this year with a reduced budget after residents last year voted to slash police expenses.
During the investigation Lake said he had been in close contact with interim Municipal Manager Francis "Dutch" Walsh, who encouraged Lake to move ahead with the work even though it was straining the budget.
"An action like this takes a lot of money," said Lake. "Without the village manager we never would have been able to pull this off."
"I am going to do whatever I can do to make sure the police department has enough funding to continue doing this work," said Walsh, who said he wanted to get the word out about the arrests.
"We want people to know, very clearly, that we are not going to tolerate this kind of activity," Walsh said. "There is no place for this in Bellows Falls."
The action Friday was the third widespread drug sweep in Southern Vermont in the past six months.
"We got support from all over Southern Vermont on this," said Walsh. "The Bellows Falls Police Department did just what it is supposed to do, and we are going to keep on doing it."
Those arrested Friday morning include:
Fredrick Anderson, 52, Bellows Falls;
Lynette Murphy, 45, Bellows Falls;
Thomas Coombs, 50, Bellows Falls;
Rosemarie Koske, 45, Saxtons River;
David Koske, 47, Saxtons River;
Arlene Garran, 52 Bellows Falls;
Allan Garran, 52, Bellows Falls;
Tharen Amidon, 18, Bellows Falls;
Kari Moody, 30, Rockingham;
Thomas Parrott, 30, Bellows Falls;
Donald Crawford, 48, Bellows Falls;
Monica Bacon, 35, Springfield.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer .com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.