SANFORD, Maine — The suspected heroin overdose death of a Biddeford man several months ago led Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigators to his brother, and what police are calling the biggest heroin bust in Maine history.
“It’s mind boggling when you think about the amount,” MDEA Cmdr. Scott Pelletier said Monday.
Over eight pounds of the [fentanyl laced heroin] — half seized in Sanford and the other half seized in Massachusetts — was taken off the streets in two raids this month by agents with the MDEA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The amount is four times larger than the previous record for heroin seized in Maine, which occurred in Scarborough last year.
The combined street value of the newly seized drugs was estimated by police at over $1.8 million.
Jason Bolduc, 39, of Parsonsfield and Nichole Farrar, 35, of Sanford were both arrested on Jan. 13 after state and federal drug agents stopped them on Nowell Street in Sanford.
“Seized from the rental vehicle and from Bolduc’s personal vehicle which was parked nearby was 3.88 pounds of heroin and $2,473,” Pelletier said in a press release.
Bolduc and Farrar both were charged with unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs for the fentanyl laced heroin found, and were taken to York County Jail, where they are each currently being held on $250,000 bail.
“Investigators then tracked down a storage unit Bolduc had rented in Wakefield, New Hampshire, which contained $177,881 in cash and ledger books detailing past drug sales and several handguns,” Pelletier said in the statement.
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, and Wakefield, New Hampshire, police assisted in the seizure at the storage unit. MDEA agents also seized a number of vehicles and equipment from Bolduc’s rented home in Parsonsfield.
Maine agents also assisted their federal counterparts in a Friday raid, “that led to the seizure of 4.4 pounds of heroin/fentanyl in Massachusetts, which was destined for Maine,” Pelletier said in the statement.
A number of additional suspects have been identified and additional arrests are expected, he added.
The busts remove more than 35,000 individual doses of heroin/fentanyl off the streets, Maine Public Safety Commissioner John Morris said in the statement.
“The arrests and seizure have likely saved a number of lives from drug overdoses in both Maine and New Hampshire from this poison,” Morris said.
The commissioner also said that some of the 14 new MDEA agents added in early 2016 helped with the case.
The MDEA’s York District Task Force along with agents from the U.S. DEA have been investigating Bolduc for the past four months suspecting he was selling the drug throughout southern Maine from his home at 27 Franks Place in Parsonsfield, a few hundred feet from Route 153 and the state border with New Hampshire, the press release states.
Bolduc came to the attention of agents through a combination of factors, including calls from the public about suspicious behaviors and the untimely death of this brother.
“Mr. Bolduc had a brother pass away from suspicious circumstances in Biddeford, possibly a heroin overdose, a few months back and we started an investigation,” Pelletier said. “We garnered information [about the drug trafficking] from that investigation.”
The fact that Mainers are getting access to pounds of heroin laced with fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger and blamed for many of the state’s overdoses, is another sobering factor especially “when you look at it how many other people are doing the same thing,” Pelletier said.
“There are so much drugs coming into the United States,” the MDEA commander said. “People are able to go down and purchase pounds. We suspect it’s coming in from Mexico and South America, and it makes its way north.”
Drug overdose numbers in Maine and New Hampshire have skyrocketed in recent years, he said. The number of drug-related deaths in Maine has increased steadily since 2000, when there were 60. Maine saw 208 overdose deaths in 2014, a record 272 overdose deaths in 2015, and by September 2016 had already set a new record with 286 drug overdose deaths to that point.
“One person a day is dying from a drug overdose in Maine,” Attorney General Janet Mills said after the September numbers were released. “I cannot stress how dangerous these drugs are.”
In 2015, New Hampshire ranked second in the nation for overdose deaths with 34.3 per 100,000 in population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Virginia, with 41.5 per 100,000, had the highest death rate due to drug overdose for 2015.
Maine ranks 13th, based on the 2015 figures, with Connecticut and Massachusetts among the other New England states ranked higher, the CDC data shows.
“It doesn’t matter what state in New England you’re in, you’re touched by this,” Pelletier said of the deadly drug epidemic.