INDIAN TOWNSHIP – Police arrested five people Wednesday in a drug sweep that netted heroin, cocaine and marijuana with a street value of as much as $8,000.
Indian Township police Drug Enforcement Officer Billy Nicholas said the investigation, which was conducted jointly by the Indian Township Police Department and special agents of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, resulted in the arrests of several people involved with the trafficking of heroin and other drugs in northern Washington County. The Pleasant Point Police Department and the Indian Township and Pleasant Point Warden Service also assisted.
The arrests were the result of an ongoing crackdown on drug trafficking on the Passamaquoddy reservations. During the past few years there have been several arrests of drug dealers at Indian Township near Princeton and at the Pleasant Point Reservation near Eastport.
The latest arrests began a week ago. Although they are connected, police are not elaborating on the details of the investigation.
During the early morning hours of Nov. 30, officers raided the home of James Bailey, 30, of Grand Lake Stream. Bailey was not home at the time. Police seized an undisclosed amount of heroin as well as scales and records. A second search was conducted at another Grand Lake Stream residence where Bailey was found. At that location, agents seized about 200 dosage units of illegally possessed prescription drugs as well as heroin, firearms and related evidence.
Bailey was arrested and charged with trafficking in heroin, a Class B felony. Bailey currently is facing similar charges in Massachusetts, said Darrell O. Crandall, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency supervisor of the Houlton Task Force Office. That office serves Aroostook and Washington counties.
On Wednesday, police arrested Reginald Newell, 48, and Donald Brown, 23. Newell was charged with heroin trafficking, while Brown was charged with two counts of cocaine trafficking. Both are Class B felonies.
Police later arrested Eric Newell, 20, who was charged with possession of heroin, a Class C felony. Also arrested was Kevin Peter Paul, 24, who faces two charges, one a misdemeanor and one Class C felony of marijuana trafficking.
Also arrested was Melvina Newell, 44, who was charged with one misdemeanor count of marijuana trafficking. The Melvina Newell case will be prosecuted in Indian Township Tribal Court, while the others, because of the seriousness of the charges, fall under the jurisdiction of the state courts.
Although the incidents are related, Crandall said details of the investigation are not being immediately released.
The Class B felonies carry a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. A Class C crime is punishable by up to five years and the misdemeanor offense could net up to 364 days in jail.
“All of the individuals, with the exception of Eric Newell, are accused of distribution,” Crandall said. “The distribution of heroin has not yet become a widespread problem in Washington County, but given the large numbers of opiate or prescription narcotic abusers, there is a strong potential for this to catch on.”
Nicholas, who spearheaded the investigation, said Indian Township Gov. Richard Stevens is determined to eliminate drugs on the reservation. “I give credit to the governor for being supportive in combating the drug problem on tribal land. Without his support we wouldn’t have been able to do the things that we have been able to do,” he said.
Nicholas said he was not surprised that the investigation uncovered heroin. “You know it is there. You hear it’s there,” he said. “Cocaine has been here before.”
Pleasant Point police Chief Joseph Barnes and tribal officials at that reservation also have battled the drug problem on the reservation. Barnes characterized the bust as “excellent.”
“It shows the dealers that we haven’t forgotten about them. We are still looking at the people who are dealing drugs,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where they are. If they are dealing to our people, we are going to go after them. They all are Passamaquoddy people that we are protecting. If they are dealing at Pleasant Point, they are dealing to people in Indian Township. Really, we all are one, so it doesn’t matter.”
During the past two years, Passamaquoddy police, working cooperatively with other agencies, have arrested more than 20 people in the Pleasant Point and Eastport area and charged them with drug trafficking and possession offenses.