The massive murder trial under way in Bangor is of course about the execution-style killings of three people in August of 2012, but the sidebar, if you will, is surely going to be the revelation of the frightening and enormous drug culture that permeates this region.

Nicholas Sexton, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and Randall Daluz, 36, of Brockton, Massachusetts, are being tried for three counts of murder and one count of arson.

They are accused of killing Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24 of Eddington, Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford.

Most murder trials are presented to jurors like a story by the prosecution. The story that Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese will put forth for the next few weeks at the Penobscot Judicial Center will end in murder, but every single chapter leading up to the very last page will focus squarely on the insidious world of drugs in a small Maine city and the small towns that surround it.

The case is about the sale and use of drugs, money and loyalty, Marchese told jurors during her opening statement on Thursday.

It’s always a task to prosecute a murder case, even when you have cooperative witnesses. In this case, many of the state’s witnesses are not.

“You’re going to hear from a lot of people who know all about the drug trade and they are going to be unhappy to be here,” she said.

It is not unexpected that alleged drug dealers and users would be reluctant to be placed on the witness stand to face the detailed questioning they surely will be subjected to.

I suspect there will be some fidgeting going on.

Some of them have small children.

It’s bound to be extremely unpleasant. Risky, actually.

Some witnesses may actually be afraid, not only of having to lay open the details of their drug-filled lives to the public, but because the drug trade here has become a seriously risky business.

Case in point being the end result for Borders, Lugdon and Tuscano.

Maine is rife with addicts and the massive drug cartels and dealers headquartered in New York, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are happy to supply them.

It’s a serious, lucrative and violent business.

Jurors will have their hands full trying to keep track of what Marchese indicated was a long, long list of people who were connected to the three victims and the drug-infested world they lived in.

The case is going to be long and arduous, she told the panel, and “You will probably learn about things you may never have known.”

We all know how serious the drug problem is here. We barely take notice when a local pharmacy is robbed at gunpoint, a crime that was nonexistent only a few years ago. We know there were 927 drug-exposed babies born in Maine last year and that 163 people died of drug overdoses the previous year.

In 2012, six of the 25 homicides in Maine were related to illegal drugs, according to Attorney General Janet Mills, and three of those were Lugdon, Borders and Tuscano.

Those are all numbers and statistics that we receive regularly through news releases and media accounts, but the guts of the drug problem here, the daily toll of it, the true faces behind it … that’s the story that is going to unfold, at least in part, during the next few weeks at the courthouse on Exchange Street. It most certainly will reveal itself to be a tragic tale.

You can reach Renee Ordway at