BANGOR, Maine — A joint state and federal drug raid conducted Tuesday led to the arrest of eight people in Maine for their roles in trafficking synthetic bath salts in the Bangor area in 2011, authorities said.
A federal grand jury indicted a group of 14 in mid-July, and the indictment was sealed until the first person was arrested Tuesday, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.
“Six additional defendants have been charged, but not yet apprehended,” Casey said in a statement. “The charges stem from an 18-month-long investigation into the introduction of MDPV into the Bangor area in 2011.”
MDPV is a chemical compound commonly referred to as bath salts, which is called “monkey dust” on the streets of Bangor, he said.
The number of defendants indicted appears to make this the largest bath salts conspiracy case prosecuted by the Maine U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The eight arrested were named in the indictment, which states all “knowingly and intentionally conspired with one another and with persons known and unknown to commit offense against the United States, namely, distribution and possession with intent to distribute … a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of MDPV, a controlled substance.” The names of the six still at large were redacted.
The indictment states the drug dealing took place between April 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011, and Casey added that the investigation was primarily conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency with assistance from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The drug is known to cause paranoia, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users.
Ryan Ellis, 32, formerly of Greenbush, also known as “Dude,” “Calvin” or “Piles,” is facing four counts — conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance, using or maintaining a drug-involved residence, unlawful use of a controlled substance, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense.
The indictment states he rented a residence, 49 Lonnie Loop in Old Town, to distribute the bath salts and that he carried three weapons, a .45-caliber Glock, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Czech 7.62-caliber semi-automatic pistol, while dealing the drugs.
Alan Ketchen, 40, formerly of Bangor, who is known as “AJ” or “Hobbes,” is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and using or maintaining a drug-involved residence. He allegedly rented the residence at 10 Blackstone St. in Bangor to deal bath salts.
Jamie Lewis, 37, formerly of Bangor; Jacob Gagnon, 24, formerly of Bangor and now of Van Buren, also known as “Jake the Snake”; Adam Hathorn, 35, of Bangor; Daniel Hines, 37, of Orrington; April Kane, 28, of Gorham; and Gina Nelson, 30, of Bradley each are facing one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
If convicted, they face up to 20 years imprisonment and a $2,000,000 fine for the conspiracy charge; and up to 20 years and a $500,000 fine for maintaining drug-involved premises. Ellis also faces up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine for possessing firearms while using drugs; and a minimum of at least five years up to a maximum term of life consecutive to the conspiracy sentence for carrying firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
The eight arrested Tuesday were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk and are expected to be temporarily detained with bail hearings to be held later in the week.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration banned three major components of the synthetic drug bath salts — including MDPV — in October 2011, designating it as a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. Maine outlawed the dangerous hallucinogenic drugs in July 2011.
Ellis is no stranger to police. He was caught with nearly a pound of bath salts and several weapons in Brewer in December 2011. He is currently behind bars serving a seven-year sentence, with all but three years suspended, which he began about a year ago, according to Bangor Daily News archives.
In January 2012, while Ellis was out on bail for the Brewer incident, he was charged with a second felony bath salts trafficking charge.
Jim Pease, special agent supervisor for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s midcoast regional task force, said in March that Ellis was one of the first people running bath salts between Bangor and Rockland.
Lewis and Hathorn were arrested together by Old Town police in December 2011, according to BDN archives.
Hathorn was pulled over while driving a Mercury that was reported missing. He was charged with possession of a synthetic hallucinogen. Lewis, who was also in the car, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a synthetic hallucinogen, trafficking in dangerous knives and violating conditions of bail.
Lewis was arrested in January 2012 after Old Town police found bath salts, other scheduled drugs, hypodermic needles and drug paraphernalia in the car he was riding in.
Hathorn was arrested around the same time with two others following a search conducted at an apartment in Bangor in which 60 grams of bath salts and a handgun were seized.
In November 2012, Hathorn was arrested in Hampden, where he was charged with unlawful possession of bath salts and drug paraphernalia as well as falsifying physical evidence and misuse of a public benefits instrument because he had a stolen EBT card, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department.
Hines was charged with selling cocaine by Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officers in September 2008, and was arrested by Bangor police in July 2012 who charged him with disorderly conduct.
Kane was arrested and charged with trafficking in synthetic hallucinogenic drugs after Veazie police discovered more than 180 grams of bath salts, three ounces of a liquid methadone and $1,500 cash in a car she was driving in November 2011.
Just three weeks earlier, she was stopped by Bangor police and charged with possession of bath salts, Xanax and Ritalin, carrying a concealed weapon as well as OUI for allegedly being under the influence of cannabis and opiates.
On Dec. 27, 2010, Kane was arrested and charged with criminal trespass, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of drugs by Bangor police after “clicking – triggering” a stun gun while walking toward a hotel she was asked to leave because she was smoking in a nonsmoking room.
Nelson was one of two summoned for a theft at the Maine Smoke Shop in Brewer on Sept. 7, 2005. According to police, Nelson distracted one of the shop’s employees while Matthew French of Eddington put $50 of cigarettes down his pants.
Ketchen’s Bangor home was searched in November 2011 by Bangor police where $71,000 worth of baths salts and more than $11,000 in cash was recovered. He was arrested and charged with possession of scheduled drugs and possession of synthetic hallucinogenic drugs.
BDN reporter Alex Barber contributed to this story.