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New drug enforcement efforts paying off in OOB

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Posted: Monday, October 22, 2012 12:08 pm | Updated: 12:02 pm, Tue Oct 23, 2012.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH - After being contacted directly by a concerned citizen shortly after arriving in Old Orchard Beach Mark Pearson, the town manager, realized the police department needed to be more proactive in terms of its drug enforcement activities.

That's why he and Police Chief Dana Kelley concocted a plan to reallocate resources within the existing budget, which allowed Kelley to assign two officers to full-time investigative duty.

Since this spring that increased effort has resulted in the police department charging 46 people with a variety of drug-related crimes, including 36 felonies, Kelley said at a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Old Orchard Beach Police station.

Also as a result of the investigations being done, police have seized crack cocaine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines and assorted prescription drugs with a street value of more than $155,000 and have also confiscated about $16,000 in cash.

Kelley and Pearson both said the goal is to keep up the pressure on local drug dealers and those who purchase illegal drugs to show that “Old Orchard Beach is not the place to come if you want to set up a drug business or buy drugs.”

Kelley said his department is now actively pursuing more than 20 investigations and he expects more arrests and more charges to develop as police learn more about the drug trade in Old Orchard Beach and surrounding communities.

He said some of the people arrested since the spring are tied to each other, but said overall the 46 people charged are not part of a larger gang or drug-pushing conspiracy.

Kelley said without the support of the town manager in reallocating department funds, this new focus on drug enforcement could not have happened.

“No one had the time to actively pursue all the leads, do the surveillance, go undercover and do all the interviewing” necessary, he said, without being assigned to the task full-time. In addition, Kelley said it was very important that these officers be in plain clothes while pursuing their investigations.

“We hope people get the message that we will be more aggressive in our drug enforcement efforts,” he added. “This activity has always been out there, so that’s not a surprise. But I am pleasantly surprised and pleased that we’ve been as effective as we have been. The officers have done an excellent job.”

Kelley also said the Old Orchard Beach police officers received support from 12 different state and federal agencies during the course of its recent investigations, including the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Postal Inspectors in both Maine and California, the Southern Maine Violent Crimes Task Force, the Saco Police Department, the Scarborough Police Department and the Maine State Police, among others.

As a result of the narcotics investigations officers have also run across people in violation of their bail conditions, with outstanding warrants and one, a violent sexual predator, who had failed to comply with the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act.

Anyone with information regarding illegal drug activity in Old Orchard Beach, or the surrounding areas, should call 937-5837. It’s not necessary to leave your name, but it would be helpful for investigators to be able to speak with you directly.

See the Oct. 25 issue of the Sun Chronicle for more details. Also, attached to this story is a PDF document listing all of the recent arrests, with attached mug shots where available.

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