German Shepherd helps police find over 80K in drugs and cash – Bennington Banner

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Updated: February 27, 2022 @ 10:38 am
Gracie, Bennington’s 5-year-old German Shepherd police dog, sits with drugs she alerted officers to in a pickup truck Tuesday. 
A Bennington police officer searches a white pickup truck after police dog Gracie alerted officer to the scent of drugs. 
Bennington PD mug shot of Christopher Collins
Bennington PD mug shot of Andrew Diaz

Gracie, Bennington’s 5-year-old German Shepherd police dog, sits with drugs she alerted officers to in a pickup truck Tuesday. 
A Bennington police officer searches a white pickup truck after police dog Gracie alerted officer to the scent of drugs. 
Bennington PD mug shot of Christopher Collins
Bennington PD mug shot of Andrew Diaz
BENNINGTON — Bennington Police officers answering a call of unwanted males in an apartment on South Street in the wee hours of Tuesday morning wound up locating over $80,000 in drugs and cash hidden inside the apartment and in a vehicle parked outside — with an assist from Gracie, the department’s German Shepherd.
Officers arrived at 311 South Street, Apt No. 3, and spoke with the female tenant, who told them to leave because the men inside — three males from Massachusetts that she did not know — had guns and drugs.
Police used their cruiser’s PA system to order the suspects to leave the apartment. Two of them did; they were later identified as Christopher Collins, 30, of Easthampton, Mass., and Andrew Diaz, 29, of West Springfield, Mass.
A third unidentified male jumped out the second-floor bathroom window and was last seen running west behind the property.
During a search of the residence, officers located approximately 600 bags of suspected fentanyl and $1,420 in cash.
Gracie, a 5-year-old female German Shepherd, and her handler, Officer Robert Murawski, were called to the scene to help track the suspect who jumped out the window. While searching the area, Gracie became alerted to a white pickup truck parked outside the apartment.
After searching the vehicle, police found another 4,500 bags of fentanyl, approximately 7.13 ounces of suspected cocaine/crack cocaine, and 6.6 ounces of powder cocaine. The street value of the drugs is estimated to be $81,000. No firearms were recovered and the investigation is still ongoing.
Both Collins and Diaz were initially charged with one count of fentanyl trafficking and conspiracy, and one count of felony conspiracy to sell or deliver a regulated drug. Both defendants were held for lack of $100,000 bail set by Bennington Superior Judge Cortland Corsones before making their initial appearances.
Diaz pled not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday afternoon. Corsones reduced the bail to $50,000 cash or surety bond, as Diaz had no criminal record in Vermont.
Collins’ defense attorney Richard Burgoon invoked the 24-hour rule, allowing the arraignment to be pushed back until Wednesday.
Fentanyl trafficking and conspiracy charges carry a possible 30-year sentence and a possible $1,000,000 fine. Felony conspiracy to sell or deliver regulated drugs carries a possible 10-year sentence and a $250,000 fine.
“We know there is a drug pipeline between Springfield, Massachusetts and Bennington, Vermont,” said Paul Doucette, Bennington Police Chief. “There seems to be a real demand for heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine and there are some who take advantage of that. Even one overdose is too much. We need to do everything we can to stop the people who are bringing this poison in here to Bennington.”
Investigators are attempting to locate the third male and asked anyone with information to contact Officer Nicholas Jones or Detective Corey Briggs at the Bennington Police Department through the website: www.BenningtonPolice.com.
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