BENNINGTON — Police said two women and a man were arrested on Monday following the discovery of around $300,000 worth of heroin and cocaine at a local apartment. The Bennington Police Department described the operation as its biggest illegal drug seizure in at least five years.
The three people who were arrested, all Bennington residents, pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday.
Laci Mayer, 33, and Frederick Grant Jr., 44, are both charged with heroin trafficking and cocaine trafficking. Each charge carries maximum potential penalties of 30 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine.
Heather Farley, 39, is charged with possessing at least 200 milligrams of heroin, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
The Bennington Police Department said they were arrested after officers began investigating suspected drug distribution in an apartment on Union Street. On Monday evening, an officer standing a few feet away from the apartment front door said in a sworn statement that he had “plain view” of people inside being involved in drug activity.
Farley was reportedly seen pouring a blue glassine bag of powder into a small sheet of aluminum, which police said is associated with the packaging and use of heroin and other opioids. Grant was sitting in the same room, Officer Derek Osgood said in the affidavit obtained from Bennington Superior Court.
Bennington police said they immediately cleared the apartment of people and seized it until they could get a search warrant. The apartment’s five occupants included a teenage boy and teenage girl, according to the affidavit.
Two hours later, just after 11 p.m., six officers searched the apartment. Inside the main bedroom, police said they found 27,735 glassine bags of what appeared to be heroin and 1,470 grams of cocaine. They also reported finding $8,100 in cash, a handgun with ammunition, prescription medication, a ledger and drug paraphernalia.
“Most items were located in locked containers with various renditions of Mayer’s name written on them,” Officer Osgood said.
In a news release on Tuesday, the Bennington Police Department estimated the street value of the seized heroin and cocaine to be around $300,000.
Lt. Camillo Grande said it was the police department’s biggest drug seizure in the past 5-10 years. “These arrests and seizures are a significant blow to the illegal drug trade in Bennington area,” he said in an email.
The police department credited support from the Vermont National Guard Counterdrug Program and Bennington’s K-9, Gracie.
Mayer was charged also with a misdemeanor, violating drug-related conditions of release that the court imposed last year.
Mayer and Farley were each originally charged by police and prosecutors with carrying a weapon in committing a crime. Superior Judge Cortland Corsones didn’t find probable cause for the charge, saying there was no evidence of “carrying,” according to court documents.