14 charged in Bangor, Augusta drug rings

Posted July 09, 2009, at 9:43 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — State and federal drug agents have broken up two drug trafficking rings, one based in the Bangor area with links to New York and the other based in the Augusta area with ties to Massachusetts.

The two unrelated Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigations culminated earlier this week, when drug agents executed search warrants at motels in Bangor and Augusta.

A total of 14 suspects were arrested as a result of the probes, MDEA division Cmdr. Darrell Crandall said Thursday. Police also seized drugs, guns, cash, scales, ledgers and a Lexus, he said.

According to Crandall, the two groups were operating in similar ways.

Members would acquire drugs in New York or Massachusetts and bring them to Maine, where they could be sold at a significant markup, often out of motel rooms or apartments.

MDEA Director Roy E. McKinney said Thursday that the arrests highlight a continuing and disturbing trend in the distribution of drugs in Maine.

“Out-of-state traffickers view Maine as a lucrative market,” he said. “Such cannot be effectively addressed by any one department. Only through communication, coordination and collaboration, as demonstrated by the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation, can we hope to combat these groups,” which he said have been making significant inroads in Maine over the past several years.

Assisting state and federal drug agents were local police from Bangor and Augusta.

The Bangor area arrests followed an MDEA investigation into drug trafficking connected to New York.

During the course of that investigation, agents made covert drug purchases from members of the organization who were dealing out of a Bangor apartment that was within 1,000 feet of two schools. Garry Higgins, MDEA supervisory special agent for the Bangor-based North Central Regional Task Force, identified them as the Abraham Lincoln School on Forest Avenue and the St. John’s campus of All Saints School on State Street.

Late Monday, Higgins said, MDEA agents and Bangor police executed search warrants at two rooms at the Ranger Inn, seizing 58 retail bags of heroin worth $1,800, 3 grams of crack cocaine valued at $300, a small amount of powdered cocaine, more than $1,000 in cash, scales and drug ledgers.

Eight people were arrested in the Bangor bust — three New York residents and five people from Maine, including a married couple.

They are:

— Antonio Gonzalez, 18, Zeria, N.Y., aggravated drug trafficking in a school zone.

— Rafael Brito, 22, New York City, aggravated drug trafficking because of a prior drug conviction.

— Jessica Corzenza, 21, New York City, drug trafficking.

— Brooke Shirey, 26, Bangor, drug trafficking.

— Stephen Wood, 39, Bangor, aggravated drug trafficking in a school zone. (Police also indicated that Wood is a registered sex offender).

— Dawn Wood, 38, Bangor, aggravated drug trafficking in a school zone.

— Jessica Smock, 27, Dedham, aggravated drug trafficking in a school zone, bail violation.

— Timothy Thorpe, 29, Dedham, aggravated drug trafficking in a school zone, probation violation.

Meanwhile, MDEA agents based in Augusta joined forces with Augusta police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency investigators on a probe that involved a Massachusetts organization allegedly selling heroin, crack cocaine and OxyContin from motel rooms in that city.

Surveillance of these suspects over several weeks showed nearly daily trips between Augusta and Massachusetts, as well as retail distribution in Maine.

On Tuesday, search warrants were executed on two Augusta motel rooms. Agents seized 10 grams of heroin worth $2,400, 15 grams of cocaine worth $1,500, 137 80-mg OxyContin tablets worth $13,700 and 75 40-mg OxyContin tablets worth $3,650. Agents also seized $6,846 in cash, a 1997 Lexus and two handguns, one of them loaded.

Arrested and charged in the Augusta bust were:

— Matthew Sullivan, 22, Lynn, Mass., aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs with firearm involvement.

— Andrew Mumbauer, 21, Peabody, Mass., aggravated drug trafficking with firearm involvement.

— Daniel Sullivan, 25, Lynn, Mass., drug trafficking, fugitive from justice.

— Gordon Newton, 25, Dorchester, Mass., drug trafficking.

— Kathryn Bush, 24, Farmington, N.H., drug trafficking.

— Ashlie Williams, 21, Vassalboro, drug trafficking.

“This investigation demonstrates that cooperative law enforcement is a key in fighting drug traffickers across Maine,” said Steven Derr, U.S. DEA New England special agent in charge. “The [MDEA] is a tremendous partner and our collaboration is continuing across the state. These arrests [show] what can be achieved by working together.”

Anyone with information about drug trafficking may call MDEA toll free at 800-452-6457. Anonymous tips also may be left online at www.maine.gov/dps/mdea.

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