PORTLAND — A 30-year-old Westbrook man has been indicted by a Cumberland County grand jury after allegedly selling heroin near a posted drug-free zone.
Aaron McNeel, 30, of Westbrook has been charged with two counts of Class A aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs — namely, heroin — and two counts of Class B trafficking in heroin, in connection with incidents on Dec. 5, 2012, investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
McNeel was also indicted and charged with the Class C and D crimes of possession of scheduled drugs in connection with incidents Jan. 23, 2013.
Several charges were elevated to “aggravated” because McNeel’s home is within hundreds of feet of a posted drug-free zone, according to Detective Rich Cutliffe of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, also a detective with the Brunswick Police Department. The home is near the former Prides Corner School.
Cutliffe said Tuesday that an investigation revealed McNeel was allegedly traveling to Massachusetts “frequently — several times a week” — to purchase “a finger” of heroin, or 10 grams.
“We were able to purchase heroin from him at his residence on two separate occasions,” Cutliffe said.
He said that he and another agent went to McNeel’s home on another occasion “because we knew he had more drugs,” and explained the pending charges against him. McNeel was subsequently arrested after detectives allegedly found nearly 4 grams of heroin, packaging material, a scale, cotton swabs, spoons and syringes in his room, Cutliffe said.
According to Cutliffe, heroin is quickly becoming the prevalent drug MDEA agents see on the street.
“The progression of drug choice we’re starting to see is now probably 80 percent heroin,” he said. “Cocaine has always been there, and OxyContin is kind of drifting off because it’s harder to come by and more expensive. Heroin has become easier to get, and it all seems to be coming from out of state.”
McNeel remained in Cumberland County Jail on Tuesday afternoon.