18 month multi-agency operation “Fury Road” results in 82 federal prosecutions; seizure of 128 firearms, 1 kilogram of heroin and cocaine base
BURLINGTON, VT – DEA New England Division Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle and the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, Christina E. Nolan, announced today the results of an 18-month multi-agency enforcement operation targeting the illegal trafficking of firearms and drugs between Vermont and Western Massachusetts. “Operation Fury Road” was a sustained state-wide effort of numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies from Vermont and Massachusetts spanning from October of 2018 to February of 2020.
The operation specifically aimed to interdict and deter gun and drug trafficking on Interstate 91 and in surrounding communities. The agencies’ efforts resulted in the prosecution of 82 defendants in federal court for charges related to drug trafficking, unlawful possession of firearms, using firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, and other federal criminal violations.
“Illegal drug distribution ravages the very foundations of our families and communities here in Vermont,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “Let this operation be a warning to those traffickers who are coming from out of state to distribute this poison, that DEA and its local, state and federal partners will do everything in our power to bring you to justice.”
U.S. Attorney Nolan stated: “Today’s announcement of the results of Operation Fury Road represents the pinnacle of sustained multi-agency cooperation focused on the dual threat of deadly narcotics and firearms trafficking. With every seizure of illicit firearms and drugs over the course of 18 months, Vermont families and communities were made safer. All of our federal, state, and local partners brought important resources, expertise, and insights to this effort. It is a reflection of their dedication to the people of Vermont and to the causes of justice and public safety. We will continue to collaborate with our all of our law enforcement partners to stem the flood of deadly poisons into Vermont and prevent firearms from being trafficked to drug-source cities in our neighboring states where they are employed in homicides, shootings, and other forms of violence.”
U.S. Attorney Nolan commended the investigative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Marshals Service, and the Vermont State Police. Multiple local police departments and sheriff’s offices throughout the state assisted throughout the operation. During the operation, law enforcement seized 128 firearms and 7,511 rounds of ammunition. Of those firearms, 57 were handguns. Several firearms were AR-15 style rifles and multiple seized items were short-barreled weapons which were not registered as required by the National Firearms Act. Many of the firearms had been stolen from local Vermonters, purchased illegally at Vermont gun stores, or otherwise illegally possessed. In addition to the firearms, law enforcement also seized approximately 40,200 bags of heroin (which equates to approximately 870 grams), 141 grams of bulk heroin, 1,489 grams of cocaine base, and 78 grams of powder cocaine. Much of the heroin seized during the operation was laced with fentanyl.
The operation included three law enforcement surges around the state during which federal, state, and local resources were flooded into hard-hit Vermont communities experiencing the effects of the drug crisis and opioid overdose epidemic. The surges targeted drug and firearm trafficking in the Brattleboro area in April of 2019; the Northeast Kingdom in November of 2019; and the Rutland area in January of 2020.
This operation was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Program. OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations, and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.