A former Aroostook County sheriff has been tapped again to serve as Maine Drug Enforcement’s leader in northern Maine.

Darrell Crandall, who retired as sheriff last month, previously served as MDEA’s northern commander from around 2008 to 2013, MDEA Director Roy McKinney said.

Crandall will lead the agency’s northern fight against the network of traffickers that have fueled the state’s increasingly deadly drug crisis. A record 418 Mainers died from overdoses last year, up from 376 in 2016. The region includes operations north of Kennebec County, with offices in Augusta, Bangor, Ellsworth and Houlton.

He takes over from Peter Arno, who called today’s traffickers the worst Maine has ever seen shortly before stepping down from the post in January.

Crandall will also face the importing of cocaine and methamphetamine, which have long been overshadowed by opioids but recently gained stronger footholds in Maine, McKinney said.

McKinney picked Crandall for his experience as a drug investigator, and his track record of managing the agency’s tight resources, he said. Prior to being elected Aroostook County Sheriff in 2014, Crandall was a drug agent and MDEA supervisor in Houlton for 24 years, McKinney said.

Shawn Gillen, another MDEA veteran, will serve as acting Aroostook County Sheriff until Gov. Paul LePage appoints a replacement, he said.

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