Rising Cocaine Crimes In Maine: Lawyers Looking At Drug Trafficking Cases From 2018

At least one news outlet in Portland has noted the increase in cocaine related arrests in Maine.  See,”oCocaine’s Comeback: Maine Drug Arrest Data Shows Increase In Cocaine Cases.” Nearly a third of drug arrests in 2018 were in connection with cocaine possession or trafficking. However, according to the MDEA (Maine Drug Enforcement Agency), heroin, fentanyl and other opiates continue to proliferate in this state with more than half of arrests made in connection with these drugs.

Not surprisingly, as a result there has been a 25% increase in cocaine and crack-related deaths in Maine. In some cases, drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with heroin and cocaine which renders both substances more dangerous to users who have no idea that they may be consuming this potent drug.  In fact, four-out-of-five overdose deaths are the result of fentanyl ingestion by unknowing consumers

Additional relevant statistics are:

  • Methamphetamine cases accounted for 11% of arrests in Maine;
  • MDEA agents arrested 599 people on drug charges in 2018;
  • Agents seized roughly eight pounds of cocaine and ten pounds of fentanyl and heroin that year; and
  • These amounts account for tens of thousands of individual dosages.

Increased out of state presence:

Arrest reports reveal that increasing number of out-of-state drug dealers are relocating to Maine because of the higher retail prices here as opposed to in states such as New York and Massachusetts. MDEA Director Roy McKinney recently observed that “Cocaine is making a comeback” and revealed, that “drug trafficking groups use our highways as the means of distribution, it’s just like any other commodity.”

In order to stem the tide of the increasing supply of illegal drugs, McKinney reported, that “We’re focusing on those networks, those groups involved in the trafficking that will have the greatest impact on that supply.” The increase in prosecutions of out of state individuals for drug related crimes by federal and state authorities in 2018 confirm that McKinney’s  focus is having results.

Retreads Caught On The Road

The term “retread” has been used to describe defendants who are repeatedly convicted of similar offenses as they cycle in annd out of the criminal justice system. In one incident, MDEA agents from arrested four Ellsworth locals in connection with drug trafficking charges as they were returning to Maine from Massachusetts with heroin and cocaine.  One individual was on probation as the result of a prior heroin trafficking charge and another had been released a few months earlier after serving a sentence for selling heroin and marijuana.

Massive Marijuana Bust

Despite the fact that medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal under Maine law, it is still illegal under federal law. Thus while federal prosecutors do not prioritize marijuana prosecutions, a recent significant case brought by the U S Attorney’s Office in Maine demonstrates that large scale marijuana sellers who operate outside the state’s regulations will be prosecuted. More specifically, in February, 2018 law enforcement officials seized more than 650 pounds of marijuana during a number of coordinated raids made in Lewiston and Auburn. During the investigation, over a dozen suspects were arrested  and among the items seized were:

  • A number of automobiles including a Lamborghini worth nearly $200,000
  • Cannabis concentrate;
  • Jars of butane hash oil;
  • Guns, pistols and a silencer with the serial number removed

If convicted, those face five to forty years in prison and fines of up to 5 million dollars. In addition to charging various defendants in this case, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of multiple properties, $300,000 in cash, watches, diamond rings, a commercial tractor and assorted gym equipment.

A Huge Haul In Gardiner

On or about July 31, 2018, MDEA Officer Daniel Ames obtained a search warrant for a Middle Street apartment in Gardiner suspected of being used by out of state drug traffickers. The affidavit Ames filed in the case led to the arrest of 2 Brooklyn men and 2 locals who were charged with aggravated drug trafficking in more than six grams of heroin, in more 32 grams of cocaine base, and  sought the the criminal forfeiture of almost $14,000 in cash.

During asubsquent hearing it was revealed that the case involved over 150 grams of heroin and fentanyl as well as nearly 300 grams of cocaine

Of course those arrested are presumed innocent, and there very well may be numerous potential defenses, including illegal search and seizure issues, that must be explored by lawyers charged with their defense.

If you,  a loved one or friend is facing similar charges and need the very best in legal representation, please contact us today. The sooner we can get started on your defense, the more likely it is  that you’ll have a more positive outcome in court.