City police bust trio for drug trafficking

VERGENNES — A routine traffic stop by Vergennes police this past Friday night led to the arrest of three Albany, N.Y., residents for heroin and cocaine possession and trafficking in heroin.
The three suspects — Robert Scales, 33; Jamel Sears, 30; and Kessiah Harvin, 26 — were lodged for the weekend at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility after police alleged they found 27 grams of powdered cocaine and 100 bags of heroin in a backpack in the trunk of a car driven by Harvin.
Officer Adam O’Neill of the Vergennes police had stopped Harris’ northbound car at about 9:45 p.m. on West Main Street after radar equipment indicated that it was traveling at 45 mph, 15 mph faster than the posted limit, according to an affidavit O’Neill filed with the Addison County Superior Court’s Criminal Division.
On Monday in Middlebury, Scales, Sears and Harvin all pleaded innocent in court to possession of more than 200 milligrams of heroin, heroin trafficking, and possession of more than 2.5 grams of cocaine.
The possession charges each carry penalties of up to five years in prison and fines of $100,000, and the trafficking charge carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
After their arraignment, Scales and Sears were taken to the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans, and Judge Samuel Hoar set bail for each at $50,000. Harvin was taken to the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility and held for lack of $35,000 bail.
According to Vergennes police, the heroin and cocaine had a collective street value of between $3,500 and $4,000, and Scales, Sears and Harvin said they were going to visit a relative of Scales in Burlington.
In his affidavit, O’Neill wrote he “detected a faint odor of marijuana” coming from the car, and eventually received consent to search the car, which he did with help from Sgt. Brent Newton.
The only luggage in the car, according to the affidavit, was a backpack in the trunk in which the police found what they believed to be drugs, the cocaine in one plastic bag tied with a knot and the heroin in “ten (10) bundles, with ten (10) wax folds per bundle.”
O’Neill, Newton and Officer Brittany Clark, who also responded to the West Main Street scene, than took the trio into custody, first to holding cells in the city police station for questioning, and then to Chittenden County.
Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel said the arrests are a good example of how traffic enforcement helps keep communities safe, but that it is a tool that can only do so much.
“For every one that we hit, I couldn’t even speculate how many are going through town that we don’t run into,” Merkel said. “22A and Route 7 is the main corridor that runs to Burlington and points north. It’s something that is a huge, huge issue.”

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