Thursday, July 18, 2002

Town to be part of federal drug task force

Published in the Current; co-written with Kate Irish Collins

The town of Scarborough, along with drug agents on the federal and state level, will join with the town of Cumberland to create a new task force meant to intercept illegal drug shipments and buys along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Although details of the task force have yet to be worked out, Scarborough intends to use money it has received from the asset forfeiture of those caught dealing in drugs in the area to pay for a new police officer that would be attached to the drug task force, to be headed by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

At a Town Council meeting held Wednesday after the Current’s deadline, the council was expected to accept a total of $15,577 from a drug bust that occurred in December.

According to Town Manager Ron Owens, the town is also expecting to receive another $5,000 from another drug bust sometime soon.

Working with officials from the DEA and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, police here were able to catch two people at the Residence Inn on Payne Road that were expecting a large shipment of marijuana from Arizona last December.

According to Police Chief Robert Moulton, the case originated in Arizona, where the Department of Public Safety doing an under-cover controlled buy, seized 333 pounds of marijuana and $86,500 in cash.

“They got the individual down there to cooperate and work with the feds. He came up to Maine as if he still had the marijuana and met the two buyers at the Scarborough hotel. We were able to intercept the buyers and seized $60,000 from one of the buyers. We found more money in the vehicle and a second defendant,” Moulton told the Current.

Normally money received into the Police Department’s Asset Forfeiture Account is used to buy special law enforcement equipment, not put into the department’s annual operating budget, Moulton said. “It all helps,” he added.

But due to the new drug enforcement task force that Scarborough will be a part of, any money the department receives for helping making a drug bust will go toward paying for the time of the police officer attached to the drug task force.

“We are not planning to make any big announcement when we first get started,” Owens said, “but neither are we trying to keep it from the public.”

Owens is expecting the task force to take shape over the next several weeks. “I don’t think that this means that there are more drug sales, more drugs coming into Scarborough than before. I just think that we are along the interstate here and that drugs are moving up and down on their way to buyers and dealers,” Owens said.