Three Hope residents charged with marijuana trafficking

Posted Aug. 20, 2009, at 8:24 p.m.

HOPE, Maine — State drug agents and Knox County deputies this week charged three Hope residents with marijuana trafficking.

Bruce Melanson, 57, was arrested Monday on a charge of aggravated trafficking in marijuana, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Supervisor James Pease said Thursday. He said Melanson’s trafficking charge was elevated to aggravated because police seized from him a loaded .22-caliber handgun linked to the drug operation.

After his arrest, Melanson was taken to Knox County Jail. Pease said Melanson since has been released on bail.

Summoned on one charge each of marijuana trafficking, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, were Rebecca Murray, 53, and Vincent Murray, 55, Pease said. Vincent Murray also was charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, he said. Further charges are possible, Pease added.

Melanson was arrested after MDEA agents, state police, Knox County Sheriff’s Department officers and personnel from the Maine Warden Service and Probation and Parole executed a search warrant at Melanson’s Route 17 home, according to Pease.

Police had obtained the search warrant on the suspicion that Melanson had sold “hundreds of pounds” of marijuana in Knox County over several years.

During the raid, drug agents seized about 20 pounds of marijuana packaged in 1-pound bags with a street value of $40,000, Pease said. They also confiscated about $14,000 in cash and a 2001 Harley-Davidson motorcycle. On Tuesday, MDEA agents and state police seized a 2002 Kobelco excavator belonging to Melanson on Fish Road in Hope.

The Murrays were summoned after MDEA agents and Knox County deputies conducted a second search Monday at the Murrays’ home on Martzville Road in Hope. There, drug agents seized about 3 pounds of marijuana as well as seven guns stored with the marijuana, three of them loaded.

Pease said that the MDEA believes the marijuana seized from the Murray home had been purchased from Melanson.

The case will be forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office or presented to a grand jury, he said.

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