Friday, August 27, 2010

Maine Coast Drug Crackdown Makes Dents

By Abigail Curtis
BDN Staff

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a periodic series of articles a year in the making that examines the effects of drug abuse in Maine.

Read Part One:

Drugs weigh heavily on Maine's poorest area, Washington County

ROCKLAND, Maine — Even though Knox County is a far cry from the rough streets of Baltimore, just as the cops featured on the HBO series “The Wire,” Detective Reggie Walker of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department knows his way around a stakeout.

Walker has logged many hours in his unmarked police car, waiting patiently with his camera and computer close at hand, trying to catch people in the act of making an illegal prescription drug deal.

“You just wait, and wait, and wait and see,” Walker said recently from his crowded office. “It gets really boring sometimes.”

All that waiting and seeing has been leading to many more arrests lately for people caught dealing prescription drugs illegally in midcoast Maine.

Investigations of prescription drug deals — including opiates such as OxyContin, oxycodone, Percocet and Vicodin — are making up almost half of the caseload of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Mid-Coast Regional Task Force, according to Special Agent Supervisor James Pease.

“We’re always trying to figure out what the next move is, trying to figure out where they’re getting new drugs from,” Pease said.

“Everybody in this job is trying to stay ahead and combat whatever’s next.”

Pease oversees a large swath of the Maine coast, from Waldo County down to the town of Brunswick, and said that business in his territory has been booming. There was a 37 percent increase in prescription drug arrests last year with 240 arrests in Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties and Brunswick and 180 arrests in 2008, he said. That is greater than the 25 percent increase in arrests in 2009 over 2008 for the state as a whole.

Why are there so many arrests and drug seizures in midcoast Maine? Pease has an answer.

“I think we have a very, very, very strong inter-agency cooperation,” he said. “We do not work a case where there are no other departments working side by side with us.”

Although years ago there were incidents of inter-agency jealousy, that’s not the case now, Pease said.

“It’s working awesome. It can’t get any better than it is right now,” he said. “I’m not going to say we’re winning, but it’s working.”

Their latest victory included the apprehension of John Wall, 45, of South Thomaston, a man police say supplied cocaine to drug dealers in Rockland. According to police, Wall fled the area earlier in the year after he realized he was under investigation.

Wall, who has an extensive criminal record including burglary and possession of cocaine, was found hiding at a home in Monmouth. He was charged with trafficking cocaine and violating bail conditions.

Wall’s Aug. 10 arrest — and the earlier arrests of the dealers to whom he allegedly provided drugs — also was the result of interagency cooperation.

The seven special drug enforcement agents based in Pease’s Rockland office work cooperatively with sheriff’s detectives such as Walker and with law enforcement officials from municipal police departments up and down the coast.

His agents concentrate on investigating larger-scale prescription drug dealers rather than those who illegally sell their own prescription pills.

Tools of their trade include Google Earth maps and cameras equipped with long telephoto lenses, Walker said. He used those recently in Warren when doing surveillance on a suspected prescription drug dealer.

Though police weren’t able to arrest the dealer that day, they were able to nab one of his customers, a young woman who had 24 Percocets in her possession.

“They’re doing a lot of pills,” Walker said. “You can’t ignore it. It’s just there. You’ve got to take care of it. It’s almost like coke and heroin are peripheral drugs now.”

Along with a gradual shift in the type of illicit drugs that are most commonly sold is a change in the ways that prescription pills are sold, Pease said. Larger amounts of prescription pills have been coming into Maine from out of state, Pease said, especially from Massachusetts and Florida.

“We see a lot of people that go around and buy. They’re true dealers,” he said. “They just go and have a bunch of customers and sell the pills for profit to other people.”

Pease recalled the arrest last summer of Shane Goodwin, a Richmond man who flew to Florida every month to pick up “several hundred oxy 80s” and methadone pills. When Goodwin returned to Maine to sell them, he made as much as $7,000 each month.

“It would definitely be a multi-million dollar business, all in all, over my counties, definitely,” Pease said of the business.

Illegal usage of prescription drugs generates trouble in addition to the profits, according to Pease, who used to be a Rockland Police Department detective. During his tenure with that department, 85 percent of the city’s burglaries were related to either drugs or alcohol.

“A lot of times, the victims of these crimes are relatives and family members, stealing from mom, stealing from dad,” Pease said. “They say that drug trafficking is a victimless crime, but you have victims all over the board.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alleged ‘major player’ in Taunton drug ring held on $100,000 bail

By Gerry Tuoti
Posted Aug 24, 2010 @ 11:42 PM

A city man accused of being one of Taunton’s major drug dealers is being held in lieu of $100,000 cash bail after he was arrested in Connecticut as part of a two-month-long state police investigation.

Thomas Jeffreys, 31, who has addresses listed in both Taunton and Fall River, was arrested by Connecticut state police Monday and brought back to Massachusetts, where he is charged with 17 counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws. He was arraigned Tuesday in Taunton District Court.

“He was arrested at a hotel in Stonington, Conn., (Monday) morning after we contacted Connecticut state police about his known whereabouts,” said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney’s office. “The arrest was made without incident.”

Teisha Johnson, 26, of Middleboro, who according to police reports is the mother of Jeffrey’s child, was also reportedly arrested in Connecticut in connection to the drug investigation.

There are no indications that they were trying to flee, Miliote said, adding that unconfirmed information suggested they were in Connecticut to visit Foxwoods casino.

Authorities say Jeffreys was one of the main targets of the drug investigation, which relied heavily on court-ordered wiretaps and involved 13 different law enforcement agencies.

The investigation culminated Monday morning with a flurry of 15 arrests in Taunton and Raynham.

In a court document explaining his reasons for setting bail, Judge David Turcotte referenced Jeffreys’ extensive criminal record and “history of drug distribution.” The document also said the defendant is accused of being a “major player” in Taunton and a “large-scale cocaine dealer.”

State police say they have 16 recorded phone calls dating back to July 12 in which Jeffreys can be heard arranging drug deals in and around Taunton.

Jeffreys is due back in court Sept. 28.

Two other men who were major targets of the wiretap investigation were arraigned Monday in Taunton District Court.

Jose Fernandes, 24, of Taunton, was charged with 14 counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and was ordered held on $20 cash bail.

Brian Lacombe, 22, of 39 Orchard St., Taunton, was arraigned on eight counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and was ordered held on $15,000 cash bail.

Both Fernandes and Lacombe are due back in court Sept. 13.

Contact Gerry Tuoti at

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Half Ton Pot Bust in Abington Massachusetts

"We're not dealing with the average dime bag on the corner of the street, we're dealing with direct shipment," said Abington Police Deputy Chief Christopher Cutter.

This is what Abington, Massachusetts Police found when they acted on a tip and busted up a marijuana shipment Monday that they believe came from Mexico.

Prosecutor Eric Drury said, "Unknown parties has paid additional shipping monies to be made aware of the location of the shipment as well as any problems incurred in transit, this is unusual for shipments."

So police met the shipment that contained two crates at a local freight company, just as prosecutors say Tommy Colbert of Brockton, Mass. showed up with a rental truck to pick up the crates.

Police say drug dogs hit on the scent of narcotics, and they secured a search warrant to see what was inside.

After unwrapping layers of shrink wrap and garbage bags, they came to this Mexican newspaper.

Deputy Chief Cutter said, "As soon as we got to that layer of newspaper there was an overwhelming smell of fabric softener."

Drury said, "This elaborate packaging secured a tightly compacted dense green vegetable type substance."

That green substance was determined to be marijuana - more than 500 pounds of it, worth more than one million dollars.

Police took Colbert into custody - charging him with 4 felonies, including drug trafficking.

"Highly unusual, we're usually dealing with, at the most, a pound here, a pound there, but to have upwards of 700 pounds of marijuana that is extremely unusual," said Cutter.

What also peaked their interest is that Colbert is a Boston wedding photographer who has what prosecutors call a minor record.

Cutter said, "We have evidence to believe that the suspect has picked up other shipments from that terminal, we're investigating what those other shipments might have been."

Colbert's defense attorney Richard Lane said in court that his client has been a photographer for more than 35 years, has two children, and has lived in Massachusetts all his life.

Colbert is being held on $40,000 cash bail.

He's due back in court on September 14th.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer James Powderly's Client Ordered Held Without Bail on Kidnapping and Rape Charges


By Will Richmond
Posted Aug 03, 2010 @ 10:34 PM
Last update Aug 04, 2010 @ 02:48 PM

The man accused of abducting a woman from her porch and raping her will remain behind bars after a judge ruled he is a danger to the community.

District Court Judge Toby Mooney agreed to hold Angel Luis Cruz, 37, of 186 Tremont St., Apt. 1, for 90 days without bail for his alleged actions on July 25. He is accused of kidnapping a 58-year-old woman from outside her Flint home and sexually assaulting her inside his apartment. Cruz is being charged with kidnapping, aggravated rape, assault with a dangerous weapon and intimidating a witness. Defense attorney James Powderly had sought that bail be set at $10,000.

He said that witnesses described the suspect as a white man who is taller than Cruz. He said that the victim also failed to pick Cruz’s photo from a photo array.

Cruz is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 9 for a pretrial conference.

Mooney also held Cruz without bail on a charge of assault and battery on a person over 60 following allegations that he attempted to abduct a woman near Kennedy Park in March. Powderly reserved the right to argue bail on that charge at a later date.

Witnesses during the dangerousness hearing described a horrific scene. They said Cruz held the victim by the throat and struck her in the head as he attempted to stuff her into his car.

“You could hear her just yelling, trying to get help from someone,” one witness said.

Anthony Ferry said he was outside his Tremont Street apartment when Cruz returned to his apartment in the same building. Ferry said he saw Cruz entering the building with a woman that he said was “upset and crying.”

The most graphic testimony came from investigating Officer Alan Beausoleil, who said Cruz first attempted to force himself on the victim inside the bathroom of his apartment, and when she resisted he tossed her onto a bed and continued to assault her in a variety of ways, threatening her the whole time.

“He covered her face, telling her ‘Don’t look at me. I know where you live. I know where your house is,’” Beausoleil said, based on the interview he conducted with the victim.

He said Cruz then forced the victim to shower and took over the duty after becoming displeased with her efforts.

Beausoleil said Cruz also forced the victim into a nude pose and photographed her with his cell phone. That photo was allegedly found after police received a warrant to search the phone’s contents.

In arguing for holding Cruz, Assistant District Attorney Maryclare Flynn informed the court that Cruz had been arrested in 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio, for allegedly photographing a woman inside a grocery store with his cell phone.

E-mail Will Richmond at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Arrests Made in Mass Prescription Drug Case

Published : Wednesday, 28 Jul 2010, 7:48 AM EDT

By Anthony Fay

TURNERS FALLS, Mass. (WWLP) - A man from Franklin County was arrested after a postal inspector allegedly delivered him a package full of Oxycodone pills.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Montague Police Department, Mitchell Barre was arrested on four drug charges on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the release, a search warrant was issued after a postal inspector had discovered 300 Oxycodone pills inside a package that was to be delivered to 74 Turnpike Road in Turners Falls. Following the discovery, the postal inspector hand-delivered the package to the home.

The warrant was carried-out by members of the Montague, Greenfield, Deerfield, and Leverett Police Departments, as well as the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the United States Postal Service. According to the release, the investigation into the case had been going on for more than a month.

Barre is being charged with Possession of a Class B Substance (not cocaine), Possession with intent to distribute, Conspiracy to Violate Drug Law, and Trafficking in a Class B Substance between 28 and 100 grams. His bail was set at $10,000.