HOULTON, Maine — In a move aimed at curbing rising drug related crimes, Town Councilors on Monday evening approved making a Houlton Police detective an agent for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
During the brief meeting at the town office, councilors voted unanimously to make Detective Stewart Kennedy an MDEA agent. He will remain employed full time at the Houlton Police Department, Houlton Police Chief and Interim Town Manager Butch Asselin told councilors, but the MDEA will pay Kennedy any overtime required if he is working on a case for the agency.
Asselin was named interim town manager last week after former Town Manager Eugene Conlogue resigned.
Asselin said that the move was necessary because of the rising number of methamphetamine labs in the area.
“We are getting so busy with the meth labs,” he said Monday. “He will still be working for us. His main priority will be his work in Houlton.”
As an MDEA agent, however, Kennedy will have statewide arrest powers, Asselin told councilors.
Methamphetamine labs are being discovered in Aroostook County in increasing numbers.
Just this month in Houlton, Thomas Lowery, 36, was arrested after investigators found items “involving the suspected manufacturing of methamphetamine,” according to MDEA commander Peter Arno.
On April 3, the Houlton Fire Department was called to extinguish a blaze in a garage at 5 Johnson St. Once at the scene, firefighters contacted the Houlton Police Department. The MDEA also was called to assist.
Arno said evidence gathered during the investigation gave agents probable cause to charge Lowery with Class B trafficking in Schedule W drugs, which could send him to prison for up to 10 years and result in a $20,000 fine.
On April 5, a 47-year-old Caribou man was arrested after the MDEA executed a search warrant at his home. Keith Tingley Jr. was charged with trafficking of methamphetamine after Maine State Police visited his home as part of an unrelated investigation and allegedly discovered a “one pot” lab located in a crawl space underneath the mobile home. That prompted the MDEA to secure the warrant.
Arno said that a “significant amount of evidence consistent with the illicit manufacturing of methamphetamine was discovered during the search.”
It was the tenth time MDEA has responded to a methamphetamine lab-related incident in 2014, according to Arno.