RUMFORD — Four area residents were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday on felony drug trafficking charges during an ongoing prescription drug crackdown by Rumford police and Maine Drug Enforcement agents.
Melinda Blodgett, 28, of 201 Waldo St. in Rumford was arrested at 1:22 p.m. Wednesday on aggravated trafficking in Suboxone, Rumford police Capt. Daniel Garbarini said Wednesday afternoon.
Suboxone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat pain or opiate addiction, Tony Milligan, MDEA agents' supervisor, said.
Also arrested on Wednesday at 12:40 p.m. was Gregg Gibbons, 25, of 56 Roxbury Road in Mexico was charged with unlawful trafficking in prescription painkiller Hydrocodone (Vicodin).
Blodgett and Gibbons failed to post $6,000 and $5,000 cash bail, respectively, and were taken to the Oxford County Jail in Paris for arraignment, Garbarini said.
Arrested Tuesday were Chanda Sanfratello, 32, of 4 Byron St., Rumford, at 1:37 p.m. on two counts of aggravated trafficking in Suboxone and morphine sulfate, and John Bernard, 46, of 35 Middle Ave., Mexico, at 12:30 p.m. on aggravated trafficking in morphine.
Milligan said morphine sulfate is a narcotic analgesic for pain.
Sanfratello and Bernard failed to post bail of $12,000 cash and $8,000 cash, respectively, and were also taken to the Paris jail.
A jail official said Wednesday evening that all four remained behind bars following arraignments earlier in the day in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris.
Mexico and Dixfield police helped with the arrests.
“These are initial charges,” Milligan said. “There will be additional charges that we're going to present to the grand jury for consideration, so we can't give a lot of specifics because of the pending investigation.”
Sanfratello's charges were elevated to Class A felony aggravated status because drug transactions occurred within a school zone, Milligan said.
“Both charges carry a minimum mandatory (sentence) of four years prison pending conviction as charged,” he said.
Bail was set high “based on the seriousness of the crimes,” Milligan said.
Arrest warrants were served on all four and a search warrant was also served on Bernard's residence.
Milligan and Garbarini declined to specify quantities of drugs that the four are accused of selling, but did say they also recovered evidence at Bernard's home to support the drug charge.
Bernard's charges are considered aggravated because he has three prior felony drug convictions, Milligan said.
"These arrests were the result of a joint investigation by Maine Drug Enforcement and Rumford police that began a little over a year ago and is continuing," Garbarini said.
"It hasn't had a focus so much, but the investigations have involved diverted pharmaceutical drugs that people are either acquiring illegally or legally, and then selling them illegally," he said.
"In all of these cases that we're talking about today all involve locally acquired and locally distributed pharmaceuticals," Milligan said.
"The goal is to try and reduce the amount of pharmaceutical diversion that's occurring in the area and to try to reduce the amount of accidental overdose deaths that result often from that."
Garbarini said there is a major pharmaceutical drug diversion problem in the Rumford area.
"We definitely are experiencing that by virtue of complaints from pharmacies, complaints from doctors, to include complaints from the public," he said.