A Princeton man and another man from Hancock, who were among more than two dozen people charged last spring in an FBI drug sweep in Washington and Hancock counties, each pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to drug trafficking.
With the pleas on Tuesday, there now are six Mainers who were caught in last spring’s drug sweep Down East who have pleaded guilty in federal court to drug trafficking-related charges.
William Smeal, 34, of Hancock pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to a charge of possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute. He was arrested in February 2019 after police stopped his car in Ellsworth as he was driving back from Massachusetts and found 111 grams of fentanyl along with $1,200 in cash, according to federal court documents.
Police found 36 more grams of fentanyl at his house and, in another search on March 20, found an additional 118 grams of fentanyl hidden inside the car. The street value of the drugs seized from Smeal in February is estimated to be more than $50,000, police said at the time.
A 3-milligram dose of fentanyl is enough to kill an average-size adult male.
Robert McKenna, 48, of Princeton, was accused of selling the drugs to an undercover police officer in Indian Township last April. According to documents filed in federal court in Bangor, the undercover officer was directed to go to a house there after he contacted someone to ask where he could buy drugs.
The undercover officer was admitted to the house, where several people were milling about, waiting to get drugs they had paid for, according to court documents.
Once inside, the officer heard and saw a woman knock on the door and then explain to one of the dealers that “she didn’t have much time because she had her kids.” Another woman waiting in the kitchen pointed out that she was ahead of the undercover officer in line because she had arrived first, according to the court complaint.
After the officer gave $280 cash to McKenna, the Princeton man went into a room in the house and, a few minutes later, emerged “carrying a digital scale with apparent crack on it.” The cocaine, including a baggie it was in, weighed 2.3 grams.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Smeal faces between five years and 40 years in prison and up to a $5 million fine, and between four years and a lifetime of supervised release. McKenna faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and between three years and a lifetime of supervised release.
Sentencing dates for Smeal and McKenna have not yet been set.
In all, 27 people have been charged as a result of the investigation into drug trafficking Down East. Twelve of them are alleged drug dealers from New York City and 15 are Maine residents.
A total of 20 people — 11 New York City residents and nine Maine residents — are facing charges in federal court in Bangor. Six Maine residents and one New York City man are facing state drug charges in Washington County connected to the federal investigation.