25 from Maine, N.Y. charged in sweeping Downeast drug bust

The investigation involved more than 30 Maine drug agents, troopers, deputies, the FBI, Border Patrol, Secret Service, U.S. marshals and more.download (1).png

BANGOR, Maine — Fifteen people from Maine and 10 from New York were either arrested or charged this week as part of a major drug trafficking bust, involving a joint effort between 13 county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Maine U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency announced the arrests and charges Friday, which arose from an investigation into drugs being trafficked from New York City to Washington County and Hancock County in Maine.

Seven search warrants were executed Thursday, the U.S. attorney’s office said, resulting in the seizure of several firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun and large amounts of crack and fentanyl.

Arrested and charged Thursday by criminal complaint in federal court were the following 14 people with the charge or charges proceeding:

From Maine…

  • Vestin Drisko, 40, of Beals Island; and Renita Honea, 57, of Jonesport, with distributing crack and heroin, and maintaining a drug-involved premises
  • Chandra Hanscom, 44, of Cutler, with distributing heroin
  • Cody Look, 30, of Cutler, with possession with intent to distribute crack
  • Barry McCarthy, 43, of Columbia; and Ralph Sawtelle, 27, of Lubec, with maintaining a drug-involved premises
  • Robert McKenna, 48, of Indian Township, with distributing crack
  • William Smeal, 32, of Hancock, with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl

From New York…

  • Jordy Collado, 18, of New York, New York, with possession with intent to distribute crack
  • Miquel Angel Franco, 22, and Milo Danell Germany, 21, both of Bronx, New York, with possession with intent to distribute cocaine
  • Cinque Grasette, 42, of New York, New York, with distributing crack and heroin
  • Mujahedeen Hasan, 28, of Bronx, New York, with distributing crack
  • Julian Lloyd, 24, of Bronx, New York, with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl

Kevin Leroy Barner, 53, of Bronx, New York, was arrested Thursday after having been charged by indictment March 28 with possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of crack.

RELATED: 2 New Yorkers charged with arson, selling heroin in Richmond

Additionally, charged Friday by criminal complaint in federal court were the following three people with the charge or charges proceeding:

  • Christopher Cruz, 30, and Christopher Martinez, 29, both of Bronx, New York, with possession with intent to distribute crack
  • Timothy Cates, 40, of Cutler, Maine, with maintaining a drug-involved premises

If convicted, Barner faces between five and 40 years in prison and up to a $5,000,000 fine.

Drisko, Honea, Hanscom, Look, McKenna, Smeal, Collado, Franco, Germany, Grasette, Hasan, Lloyd, Cruz and Martinez face up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for the drug trafficking charges.

Drisko, Honea, McCarthy, Sawtelle and Cates face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for the maintaining a drug-involved premises charges.

Part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program, the investigation included: the MDEA; Maine State Police; FBI; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Border Patrol; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Marshals Service; and Maine Marine Patrol.

The MDEA separately announced Friday that it had charged seven people — six from Maine and one from New York — with drug trafficking, as part of the aforementioned investigation involving more than 30 MDEA agents:

From Maine…

  • Jessica Dana, 36, of Indian Township; and Rachel Dwyer, 46, of Lubec, with unlawful trafficking crack
  • Amber Douglas, 24, of Lubec, with unlawful trafficking heroin
  • Wayne Dube, 43, of Jonesport; William Gatcomb, 49, of Sullivan; and John Moholland, 50, of Princeton, with aggravated trafficking crack

From New York…

  • Craig Price, 29, of New York, New York, with unlawful trafficking heroin/crack

Cates, who was also charged in federal court, was charged separately by Maine drug agents with unlawful possession of fentanyl.

South Portland man, Lawz Lepenn arrested after police seize over 550 grams of cocaine, $15,000 from apartment

Lawz Lepenn, 37, formerly of Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with possession and trafficking of drugs, unlawful possession of a firearm, and probation violence.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — A man was arrested in South Portland Thursday night after the Southern Maine Regional SWAT team searched his apartment.

Around 8:30 p.m., agents entered the apartment at 113 MacArthur Circle in South Portland’s Redbank Village Apartments.

Their high risk search warrant was part of an ongoing drug investigation being conducted by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

During their search, agents found and seized 554.8 grams of cocaine, 1.8 grams of cocaine base, several suboxone strips, a .25 caliber handgun and ammunition, and over $15,000 in cash.

As a result of the investigation and search, Lawz Lepenn, 37, formerly of Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with possession and trafficking of drugs, unlawful possession of a firearm, and probation violence.

Lepenn was previously convicted for aggravated attempted murder in Massachusetts.

Lepenn is being held at the Cumberland County Jail on a $15,000 bail for the new criminal charges. There is no bail on the probation charge.

Maine: Search on for missing Hermon man – Have you seen Ryan Messer, 25?

Ryan Messer’s father discovered his bike on a trail near a wooded area between Route 2 and the Souadabscook Stream.
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CARMEL, Maine — Clues have lead officials to conduct a search for a Carmel man reported missing 16 days ago.

According to a spokesperson for the Maine Warden Service, Ryan Messer, 25, of Hermon went missing on April 14th.

Messer was said to be living with his family at the time of his disappearance.

 

RELATED: Missing man last seen in Hermon two weeks ago, officers say

Messer’s father discovered his bike on a trail near a wooded area between Route 2 and the Souadabscook Stream, according to officials

There were clues in the woods that led officials to believe their search on Thursday would keep them in the woods.

Maine: police ask for help solving the 1992 murder of Susan Hannah

Susan Hannah was 22 when she was last seen at a bar in Old Orchard Beach.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The Maine State Police are letting the public know the agency is continuing to investigate a case in which a woman’s body was discovered off a logging road nearly 26 years ago.

Susan Hannah’s body was found in Limington in November 1993, more than a year and a half after her mother reported her missing. Hannah was 22 when she was last seen at a bar in Old Orchard Beach.

The Portland Press Herald reports Hannah was living with her mother in Scarborough after having separated from her husband. The Maine State Police alerted the public of its continuing investigation with a Facebook post on April 20. The agency sometimes uses Facebook to notify the public about cold cases.

The agency asks anyone with information call 207-657-3030.

https://youtu.be/00ZkDtUk7yg

Maine: Presque Isle children located safe in NC, dad arrested

The department’s Facebook page says “We have great news! The children have been located and are safe!

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The two children that were reported missing last week by the Presque Isle Police Department have been located safe.

The department’s Facebook page says, “We have great news! The children have been located and are safe! The father Joel Strother has been arrested and is currently on his way to jail!”

RELATED: 2 boys ‘taken’ from Presque Isle may be with father, traveling in small SUV

Joel Strother and the 2 children were located in North Carolina.

Joel-Strother
Presque Isle Police Department:
“Thank you everyone out there on FaceBook,” the Presque Isle Police Department page says. “Because of you all sharing this information and getting the word out, we had a very happy outcome! The information came from a single tip of someone who saw our shared post and decided to call! Well done everyone, we can’t say that enough!”

RELATED: Father of boys ‘taken’ from Presque Isle now wanted by police

No word on when the boys or the dad will be returned to Maine.

Maine: Samantha Rinaldi, 40, struck, killed by alleged drunk driver, Jay Westra, 58, in Gray.

A source close to the investigation tells NEWS CENTER Maine the alleged driver, Jay Westra, is the husband of Kristin Westra, whose body was found after an extensive search by law enforcement in October 2018.
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Jay Westra, husband of missing North Yarmouth woman, speaks

GRAY, Maine — A 40-year-old woman was hit and killed by a vehicle on Yarmouth Road in Gray Saturday night. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputies and Gray Fire and Rescue responded to the scene around 7:45 p.m. and found Samantha Rinaldi of Gray unresponsive in the road. Investigators believe she was a pedestrian and Rinaldi was transported to Maine Medical Center where she later died.

View image on Twitter

Clay Gordon

@ClayGordonNews

Woman hit by alleged drunk driver in Gray last night. She was transported to Maine Medical Center where she later died. The driver is at the Cumberland Country jail on suspicion of OUI http://bit.ly/2GEhe1f 

Deputies arrested 58-year-old Jay Westra of North Yarmouth for allegedly operating under the influence.

RELATED: TIMELINE | Kristin Westra’s husband recounts night his wife disappeared

A source close to the investigation confirmed to NEWS CENTER Maine that Jay Westra is the husband of Kristin Westra, whose body was found after an extensive search by law enforcement in October 2018. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Kristin Westra death was by suicide.

RELATED: North Yarmouth body identified, Kristin Westra’s death ruled suicide

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office says Westra’s 11-year-old daughter was in the 2015 Honda Civic at the time of the crash.

Yarmouth Road is now open after being closed for approximately 30 minutes.

Cumberland County Detective’s Bureau and reconstructionists from Windham and Gorham Police Departments are investigating.

Maine: Indigenous People’s Day now an Official State holiday – Jacqui Voltaire / Maria Girouard

This was just shared with me and I would ask you to share, including Maria’s words. Those of us who have been working on IPD and the Penobscot River issue know that JM is no friend of the Penobscot people and we must make sure when we talk about this wonderful news that we stress that it may have been JM’s pen, but it was no her heart and soul that was bought many years ago by the corporates!

And the best news of the day… JM [Governor Janet Mills] signed onto Indigenous People’s Day, making it a statewide holiday.  Thanks to all those who worked so hard to make this happen at the municipal level to get the ball rolling and beyond.  JM gets all the credit for a swipe of the pen but we know how much work and heart went into this from indigenous leaders and their supporters, etc. ;).  I’m also pasting Maria Girouard’s post below too for those who don’t use FB.  I appreciated it!

Love,

jacqui


NOT SO FAST ~ I’m not even sorry that I cannot join the glee and celebratory backslapping that I’m seeing around the change from a white man’s holiday to an indigenous holiday.  To see “leaders” standing with the woman who is in the forefront of perpetuating trauma and genocide against the Penobscot people sickens my stomach.  I’m very pleased to see my Chief NOT standing amongst them. 

In a Machiavellian plot twist the perpetrator of Penobscot territorial theft is now a hero (?) for tossing us a bone.  Holding in my heart our ancestral River and the struggles of countless ancestors before me who fought and died for their rights to their ancestral river, I’m not letting her off the hook.

Nothing short of dropping the state’s position in our 6 year long legal battle, Penobscot Nation v. Janet Mills will change my opinion of that woman.  The same woman who is championing the destruction of thousands of acres of Maine land to make way for the CMP corridor to benefit Massachusetts energy needs.  The same woman who sat before judiciary committee in 2015 and said that the Penobscot Nation did not have the right to protect their women from violence under the VAWA Re-authorization Act because of the Maine Indian Land Claims – the State’s handy pocket tool for keeping the Tribes oppressed and under their thumb.  And another time before the judiciary stated that “there are NO treaties”.  In my eyes she is a disgrace no matter what the second Monday in October is called.

Yay! Now we no longer celebrate a genocidal maniac. That is the right thing to do for sure. Now will the State stop acting like a genocidal maniac and drop their stance that the ancient Penobscot Nation contains no portion of our ancestral river. This remains to be seen. N’telnapemnawak.