ROCKLAND, Maine — The police report used to charge a 35-year-old South Thomaston man with trafficking in cystal methamphetamine this week also provided details about an alleged major bath salts smuggling effort.
Paul Mahonen Jr., 35, was arrested Tuesday, Feb. 26, at his home on Route 131 and charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs.
The affidavit filed in Rockland District Court by the Maine Attorney General’s Office stated that a 53-year-old Greenbush man arrested a week earlier at the same residence had been smuggling large amounts of bath salts from Texas by hiding the drugs inside stuffed animals while traveling on commercial air flights.
During a brief court appearance on Wednesday in Rockland District Court, Judge Patricia Worth set bail for Mahonen at $10,000 cash.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said the high bail was called for in this case because Mahonen faces a mandatory minimum four years in prison if convicted of the charge. Mahonen had previous convictions for heroin possession in 2005 as well as a felony drug conviction in October 2012. He also has been convicted of escape and multiple bail violations.
Defense attorney William Pagnano said Mahonen could make $500 cash bail and asked for the lower amount. He said Mahonen was not a flight risk, had two children and many other relatives in the area. Mahonen is also a lobsterman with his own boat, according to Pagnano.
Mahonen remained jailed Wednesday evening.
Police first went to Mahonen’s South Thomaston residence on Feb. 19, after receiving a tip that Mahonen was selling bath salts again, according to the affidavit filed by officers with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Officers also had observed numerous people and vehicles stopping at the Route 131 home for short intervals.
When officers arrived Feb. 19, they saw four people in the driveway or hanging around the garage, including Mahonen and a man who identified himself to police as Dave Wells. According to the report, one MDEA agent, however, recognized that man to be Leonard “Lenny” Wells, 53, of Greenbush, “a figurehead in the bath salts movement in Maine.”
After confirming that Wells was wanted on warrants out of Penobscot County, agents arrested him. They also found about 20 grams of bath salts on Wells, according to the affidavit.
Mahonen admitted on Feb. 19 that he and Wells had been smoking bath salts, according to the affidavit. The agents also found a small mason jar with white residue that Mahonen said was bath salts.
Wells confessed to police during an interview at the Knox County Jail that he had been smuggling pounds of bath salts to Maine from Texas, according to the affidavit. He hid the drugs in stuffed animals and then sold the bath salts when he returned to Maine, according to the police report.
After the Feb. 19 arrest of Wells, the Midcoast MDEA office heard reports over the next couple of days that methamphetamine was being found in the Rockland area. The source was not known at that time. A test of the contents of the mason jar taken from Mahonen’s residence on Feb. 19 later indicated that it was methamphetamine.
When questioned again about the contents after the test results were in, Wells told police that a man from “up north or Calais area” had come to Mahonen’s house and taught Mahonen how to cook meth, according to the affidavit. Wells told police that Mahonen and the man had cooked three to four batches and produced about three to four grams each time.
Wells told police that he did not know the names of the people buying the meth but that the buyers had to provide their own pseudoephedrine, which is used in the manufacture of meth.
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, officers returned to Mahonen’s residence and called out orders over a loudspeaker. When no one came out, agents entered and found Mahonen hiding in the house, according to the affidavit.
Police said Mahonen admitted to them that the other man had taught him how to cook the meth. The BDN is not naming the other person identified in the affidavit because he has not been charged with a crime.
The investigation continues and additional arrests are possible, according to police.