HUDSON, Maine — The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, aided by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, seized a large amount of bath salts — with a street value of $190,000 — and arrested three people on felony drug trafficking charges after raids Wednesday night, an MDEA spokesman said Thursday.
MDEA agents raided two homes in Hudson and Bangor, searched a Newburgh storage locker and found $2,800 in cash buried behind a cemetery in Hudson, Darrell Crandall, MDEA division commander for northern Maine, announced in a press release.
Ryan Orton, 27, and his girlfriend, Alyssa Farrington, 20, both of Hudson, were arrested Wednesday night and Kristy Harris, 29, of Bangor was arrested Thursday morning. All face felony drug trafficking charges as a result of what drug agents found.
The charges against Orton, who was convicted of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs in December 2010, and Harris, who was caught with 316 oxycodone pills, were elevated to aggravated offenses, according to Crandall.
“MDEA agents, joined by a number of area law enforcement agencies, have disrupted an organization responsible for importing and distributing large quantities of MDPV, an illegal synthetic hallucinogen commonly referred to as ‘bath salts,’” Crandall said. “This group is accused of selling other drugs as well.”
Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Maine State Police, the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and the Bangor Police Department all assisted in the investigation, Crandall said.
He said the multiagency investigation began when Bangor police officials contacted the MDEA in the fall of 2011 saying they suspected Orton may be selling drugs.
“In the following months MDEA agents were able to purchase different types of drugs, including MDPV, from Orton,” Crandall said. “Agents did surveillance to learn Orton’s routines, identified his associates and determined the MDPV was being illegally imported from China.”
Agents staked out Orton’s Hudson home on Route 43 for two days waiting for him to leave.
“On Wednesday afternoon, he left in his 2004 Dodge truck, and he was stopped and taken into custody without incident,” Crandall said. “About 2.5 ounces of MDPV was seized from his vehicle at that time and the vehicle was seized.”
Orton’s home then was searched and agents found about 12 ounces of MDPV, more than a pound of marijuana, several semiautomatic assault rifles, two semiautomatic handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, several hundred rounds of ammunition, stun guns, night vision equipment and military-grade ballistic body armor, the MDEA commander said.
Agents then executed a second warrant at a storage locker in Newburgh leased to Orton’s girlfriend. Agents seized approximately 4 pounds of bath salts in the locker, more than 9 pounds of another substance that is yet to be identified, and more than 7 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms. The psilocybin is valued at $34,000, Crandall said.
Agents then went to the cemetery in Hudson and dug up the cash buried there, he said.
At $80 a gram, the seized bath salts in the case have a street value of $190,000, according to Crandall.
Agents also raided Harris’ home on Deer Isle Road in Bangor and seized 316 diverted oxycodone pills, with a street value of $9,480, and $3,100 in cash.
The oxycodone has a retail street value of $9,480, Crandall said.
“MDEA agents, following our Drug Endangered Children protocols, called DHHS Child Protective Services to this residence early Thursday morning to make arrangements for the well-being of four small children,” Crandall said.
Orton, Farrington and Harris all were taken to the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor.
Orton faces five charges — aggravated trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, aggravated furnishing in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, aggravated trafficking in marijuana, aggravated trafficking in psilocybin and prohibited possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Farrington was charged with trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, furnishing synthetic hallucinogenic drugs, trafficking in marijuana and trafficking in psilocybin.
Harris was charged with aggravated trafficking in oxycodone.
Initial court appearances for the trio are scheduled for May 23. Orton’s bail is set at $50,000 cash, Farrington’s at $750 cash and Harris’ at $15,000 cash, Crandall said.
More arrests are likely, he said.
“There is still a lot of work to do, and we will get it done,” Crandall said.