(a) A person who uses a firearm during and in relation to selling or dispensing a regulated drug in violation of subdivision 4230(b)(3), 4231(b)(3), 4232(b)(3), 4233(b)(3), 4234(b)(3), 4234a(b)(3), 4235(c)(3), or 4235a(b)(3) of this title shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both, in addition to the penalty for the underlying crime.
(b) A person who uses a firearm during and in relation to trafficking a regulated drug in violation of subsection 4230(c), 4231(c), 4233(c), or 4234a(c) of this title shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both, in addition to the penalty for the underlying crime.
(c) For purposes of this section, “use of a firearm” shall include the exchange of firearms for drugs, and this section shall apply to the person who trades a firearm for a drug and the person who trades a drug for a firearm.
Sec. 6. MOBILE ENFORCEMENT TEAM TO COMBAT GANG ACTIVITY
(a) The Vermont drug task force (task force) was established in 1987 as a multi-jurisdictional, collaborative law enforcement approach to combating drug crime. The task force is composed of state, local, and county officers who are assigned to work undercover as full-time drug investigators. These investigators receive specialized training, equipment, and resources that enable them to conduct covert drug investigations. There are four units of the task force geographically located to cover all areas of the state. The drug investigators of each of the units are supervised by a state police sergeant. State police commanders of the special investigation section are responsible for overall supervision and oversight of the task force.
(b) Working closely with state, local, county, and federal law enforcement agencies, the task force strives to investigate and apprehend those individuals directly involved in the distribution of dangerous drugs. The task force focuses on mid- to upper-level dealers, but also targets street level dealers who are negatively impacting Vermont's communities.
(c) To address the growing concern regarding gang involvement in the illegal drug trade as well as other gang-related criminal activity in Vermont's communities, a mobile enforcement team (team) shall be established consistent with the task force model. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a gang is defined as a group or association of three or more persons who may have a common identifying sign, symbol, or name and who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in criminal activity which creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
(d) The team shall be made up of state and local investigators to include uniformed troopers and shall focus on gangs and organized criminal activity to include drug and gun trafficking and associated crimes. The team shall work closely with federal law enforcement agencies, state and federal prosecutors, the Vermont information and analysis center, and the department of corrections in collecting intelligence on gangs and organized criminal groups, to be shared with law enforcement partners throughout Vermont. The team shall not be assigned to a specific geographical area of Vermont but shall act as a rapid response team to specific identified problem areas.
Sec. 7. GANG ACTIVITY TASK FORCE
(a) The gang activity task force is established for the purpose of raising public awareness about gang activity and organized crime in Vermont and across state and international borders, identifying resources for local, county, and state law enforcement officials, recommending to the public ways to identify and report acts of gang activity and organized crime, and making findings and recommendations regarding those efforts to the general assembly.
(b) The task force shall be composed of the following members:
(1) The commissioner of public safety or his or her designee, who shall serve as chair.
(2) The commissioner of liquor control or his or her designee.
(3) Representatives, appointed by the governor, from the following:
(A) a municipal police department;
(B) a sheriff's department;
(C) the department of corrections;
(D) the department of education;
(E) the business community; and
(F) the health care community.
(4) The United States' attorney for Vermont.
(5) A representative of the Vermont crime victims services.
(6) An attorney appointed by the criminal law section of the Vermont Bar Association.
(7) A state's attorney appointed by the executive committee of the department of state's attorneys.
(8) A senator appointed by the president pro tempore.
(9) A representative appointed by the speaker of the house.
(10) A representative from the Vermont office of the attorney general.
(c) The task force shall perform the following duties:
(1) Identify ways to raise public awareness about gang activity in Vermont communities.
(2) Recommend how the Vermont public, business community, local and state government, and
health and education providers can best identify, report, and prevent acts of gang activity in Vermont.
(3) Identify the services needed by victims of gang activity and their families and recommend ways to provide those services.
(d) The task force shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments.
(e) For attendance at meetings, members of the committee who are not employees of the state of Vermont shall be reimbursed at the per diem rate set in 32 V.S.A. § 1010, plus mileage.
(f) On or before November 15, 2012, the task force shall report to the members of the senate and house committees on judiciary and to the legislative council its recommendations and legislative proposals, if any, relating to its findings.
(g) The task force may meet no more than six times and shall cease to exist on January 15, 2013.
Sec. 8. ATTORNEY GENERAL REPORT; RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS ACT
The attorney general shall examine the issue of gang activity in Vermont and assess whether Vermont would benefit from a state Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The attorney general shall consult with the gang activity task force and the defender general in his or her deliberations. The report shall identify existing Vermont and federal law that addresses organized crime and recommendations for enhancing these laws, including any legislation necessary to implement the recommendations. The attorney general shall issue the report to the general assembly no later than January 15, 2013.
Sec. 9. APPROPRIATION; MOBILE ENFORCEMENT TEAM TO COMBAT
The commissioner of public safety may, at his or her discretion, utilize grants dedicated to fund the work of the drug task force to support the efforts of the gang task force and mobile enforcement team.
Sec. 10. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect on passage.