A small community is never too small to have its secrets, and serious drug use on Martha’s Vineyard is still known to most Islanders only through gossip or the occasional tragedy. When six young people were arrested in Tisbury nearly a year ago with heroin and forty thousand dollars in cash, tossing bags of drugs from a car driving past a preschool as they tried to elude capture, many in the community were stunned. Strangers followed reports of these dealers’ seizure and sentencing, debating whether five years in prison was enough punishment for the twenty-five-year-old at the center of the dealings.
But that bust was only part of a broader investigation by the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force. Best known for annual helicopter fly-overs with federal drug authorities to net small-time Island marijuana growers, the task force is made up of officers from each of the towns along with members of the state police. Most Vineyarders would prefer they focus on harder drugs and the bigger network that delivers them here. This week the officers seized heroin and cocaine from two men arriving on the ferry; the men were arraigned yesterday in Edgartown district court.
These arrests stemmed from those made in Tisbury this time last year, as task force Sergeant Jeff Stone explains in today’s Gazette news story outlining the anatomy of a drug bust.
Drug enforcement requires patience and diligence; it usually succeeds only after a long, coordinated operation, with authorities linking up to share expertise and resources. The quality of communication between government agencies is mostly reported in the media after it does not happen; this is an opportunity to point out the benefits when it did happen.
A significant amount of drugs would have been sold on the Vineyard without this operation and Tuesday’s arrests. Coordinated investigations are key to linking one arrest with cases in other communities, and, we can hope, cutting the problem of serious drug distribution more sharply. Along with treatment and rehabilitation for users, drug enforcement can help Island lives. When it works, it should not be kept secret, it should be congratulated.