June 19, 2018
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Maine has been discovered — by drug dealers

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

Mainers sometimes think we’re a bit behind the times, tucked up here as we are in the northeastern corner of the country.

And it’s true that it can take some things longer to get here than other parts of the world — fashion trends, for example.

Surely you’ve noticed that sometimes they don’t even show us on the national weather map, stopping instead in Boston, suggesting perhaps the weather up here is not all that important to the rest of the country.

Heck, even presidential candidates who happen by to campaign often don’t make it out of the hangar at the airport, choosing instead to spend more time in states with more votes to offer up.

So it’s always nice when we do get noticed. When someone from away discovers our part of the world and appreciates what we have to offer.

Make no mistake about it. Maine, especially the Bangor region, has been discovered by people from away and we have exactly what they are looking for.

Addicts — lots of them.

Sadly, word has spread far past our borders that when it comes to drug sales, Maine truly is open for business.

Those not convinced that the drug game is played a bit differently by those “from away” probably should have sat in on the autopsies of those three young people left in that burning car in Bangor two weeks ago.

Investigators have not said officially that the three homicides were drug-related, but there seem to be few who doubt it, especially since the man seen leaving with the three was said to have made frequent trips to the area, always in a rented car from Rhode Island and at least two of the three victims were known to have been drug users.

Last May there was a massive drug bust in Providence, R.I. Three kilos of heroin worth $1 million and 200 grams of cocaine were seized and those arrested reportedly were part of a Dominican drug trafficking organization with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha was asked about the organizations’ presence in Rhode Island.

“Where there is money to be made, they will operate,” he said.

I don’t mean to imply that the homicides here are related to a Dominican or Mexican organization or cartel, but both groups have holds in Rhode Island and New York City and for years now have been extending their reach throughout New England, according to published reports and government publications.

The drug bust on Ohio Street in Bangor last November involved a man police identified as a member of a Dominican drug trafficking organization.

Drug problems in Maine are not new, but ask the patrol officers, drug agents and prosecutors and they’ll tell you the culture here is different now.

The game has changed and the horror that occurred at Target Industrial Circle emphasizes that.

Of course, most of the violence connected with drugs has little to do with out-of-state dealers, but is perpetrated by our own.

Generally, it is not out-of-staters robbing our pharmacies at gunpoint.

During a drug bust last May in Hudson, police found several semiautomatic assault rifles, two semiautomatic handguns, a shotgun, several hundred rounds of ammunition, stun guns, night vision equipment and military-grade ballistic body armor.

But despite regular pharmacy robberies, 500 drug-affected babies born in our state last year and too many armed home invasions, we thankfully are still a place that is shocked by the violent deaths of three young people in a burning automobile.

And if, as expected, their deaths were drug-related, those homicides should serve as a wake-up call to this community and to this state.

The world is smaller than it once was. Communication and technology advances have expanded many businesses, and in the very serious and very dangerous world of drugs, Maine has been discovered.

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