Community group exposes dealers

Organizer says making pushers uncomfortable will drive them out

DuBOIS — Forty people sat together in a small meeting room at the Hampton Inn with one goal in mind: To expose known drug dealers and force them out of the area.

“This is going to take an entire community,” said John Saunders of DuBois, who organized the group because his family has been torn apart by the opiate crisis over the past several years.

“It’s not going to take 30 or 40 people; that’s a small fraction of what we need. We need a lot of people actively involved and probably a lot more people just supporting us,” Saunders said.

The effort will require a large structured organization, said Saunders. Though there are several goals, the first and most obvious one is to expose the drug dealers, and then let the community know, Saunders said.

“I don’t think too many people realize how many drug houses there are in this area,” Saunders said. “It’s just amazing. You can’t go a few blocks without running into one. At least one.”

“We are going to collect information, and we are going to have people out on the street. We need a lot of people,” Saunders said. “We have video, we have photos, we have Facebook, we have websites, we have YouTube. If you do a search for something like this on Google, you will see, ‘Community Fights Back,’ ‘Beset by Drugs, Community Fights Back,’ ‘Community Fights Back,’ all starts with community. These are all successful. It’s very easy to find examples of this that’s effective.”

It’s not a new idea, but this is going to be a large coalition that is going to make some noise, Saunders said.

“I’m sure that most of the people in here, or at least a good portion of you, know where drug activity is happening right now,” Saunders continued. “I know several of them, of course. We want to make planned efforts with this kind of stuff. Taking pictures of houses and the traffic coming in and out, and videos.”

That will create more awareness and more support for the group, he said.

“Because a family who lives on a street five houses down from a drug dealer, doesn’t know they are a drug dealer, looks on YouTube and says, ‘That house, my kids go there.’ That happened to me. I know where they go, and they know it’s a drug house,” Saunders said. “Anybody with kids in this community needs to get involved with this.”

It’s going to make the drug dealers uncomfortable, he said.

“They’re going to be thinking, ‘Am I getting videotaped right now?'” Saunders said. “It needs to be that big, where people are just afraid to do a drug deal, and are afraid to pull up to that drug house because everybody knows that’s a drug house. It makes it uncomfortable. This is what drives them out.”

He stressed that the community must work with the authorities.

“And we are working with the police,” Saunders said. “We’ll provide tips and information for law enforcement. Ultimately, it will lead to arrest, which is fine with me, of any drug dealer. Or they can change their ways and join us and make a difference.”

Saunders invited the public to join the Facebook page, Community Action Against Drug Dealers, to keep up with the discussion of the issue. The three-month-old page already has 1,000-plus followers.