LEWISTON — Another Friday night, another round of Operation Hot Spots in downtown Lewiston.
Teams of local, state and federal agents began fanning across the downtown at about 5 p.m. Within minutes, two people were arrested on drug charges, and the sweep didn't slow down much over ensuing hours.
Shortly after 5 p.m., Sabree Branch, 20, of Allentown, Pa., was arrested at Pine and Pierce streets. Police said Branch was carrying prescription hydrocodone and violating bail from a previous arrest when officers stopped to question her.
Branch, charged with unlawful possession of scheduled drugs and violating bail, was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.
Minutes later, a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigator stopped 31-year-old Todd Chase on Main Street. He was charged with aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs. Police said Chase was also in violation of release conditions set after a recent arrest.
He also was taken to the county jail.
The operation has been ongoing all summer. On Thursday, undercover agents arrested several people, including a man said to be carrying a gun and a suspected prostitute.
On Friday, teams focused mainly on the center of downtown, in particular the areas around Bartlett and Walnut streets.
At about 8:30 p.m., a Maine State Police trooper was driving near that intersection when a man and woman walked in front of his cruiser, arguing and refusing to get out of the road.
Trooper Tom Pappas stopped the pair and arrested the woman after finding her in possession of painkillers. Like the others, she was taken to the county jail in Auburn.
By 9 p.m., the teams were focusing on Walnut Street where several people were stopped and questioned. Four in a row were found to be wanted on court warrants.
By 10 p.m. a dozen people had been arrested on charges including drug possession, violating bail conditions and drinking in public.
The sweep included Lewiston police, officers from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Maine State Police and the Lewiston Housing Authority.
Lewiston police Chief Michael Bussiere said Operation Hot Spots would continue for the rest of the summer.