Nine people are arrested in a Rumford-area drug bust.

RUMFORD – Nine people from Mexico and Rumford were arrested Wednesday with eight of them on felony drug trafficking charges after five simultaneous raids by 35 officers.

Police continued to search for two more suspects.

“Everything went pretty smoothly in handling that many arrests with that many officers,” said Rumford Detective Lt. Wayne Gallant. “What probably helped us today was that it was overcast and people were hanging closer to home. (Nine) felony arrests is a big success in a little area like this.”

Those arrested in Rumford include:

• Andrew Korhonen, 42, of 318 Waldo St., for aggravated trafficking in marijuana.

• Shawne R. Gardner, 28, of 428 Waldo St., for aggravated trafficking in marijuana.

• Helen Crider, 41, of 30 Falmouth St., for trafficking in prescription painkillers.

• Thomas Cowdrey, 48, of 30 Falmouth St., for trafficking in prescription painkillers.

• Bonnie Bouchard, 20, of 76 Maine Ave., for four counts of trafficking in prescription painkillers and five counts of trafficking in marijuana.

• Jeremy Richards, 31, of 241 Pine St., for two counts of aggravated trafficking in marijuana.

• Daniel McCann, 25, of 512 Kennebec St., for violation of conditions of release. He was initially arrested on April 3 for aggravated cocaine trafficking. As a result of Wednesday’s arrest, he was transported to Oxford County jail.

• Peter Cunningham Jr., 19, of Andover Road, on outstanding arrest warrants for two counts of aggravated trafficking in marijuana and one count of trafficking in OxyContin.

• Rhana Wood, 19, of 700 Roxbury Road, Mexico, for four counts of trafficking in prescription painkillers.

Bail amounts ranged from $5,000 unsecured to $20,000 unsecured, although initial release meant paying a $40 bail commissioner’s fee. Arraignment for all nine was set for Oct. 7 in Rumford District Court. All but McCann, who had been out on bail, posted bail and were released.

Gallant said the raids were the result of a year-long undercover drug-buying investigation dubbed Operation Snowball.

Operation Snowball is the second phase of a multi-phased effort aimed at eliminating drug trafficking in the immediate vicinity of area schools.

“One of the goals of this operation was safeguarding the safety of our children in and around our schools,” Gallant added, noting that of the nine arrests, five of them netted the elevated felony aggravated trafficking charge for sales within 1,000 feet of a school.

“The majority of these (trafficking incidents) were in the vicinity of elementary school level kids,” said Rumford Sgt. Tracey Higley, “the kids that are most vulnerable to drug sales.”

Wednesday’s arrests targeted cocaine-based painkillers that were allegedly being trafficked by those arrested, Gallant said.

Though obtained legally, the prescription drugs include Amitriptyline, Meperidine, Propoxyphene, and Oxycodone and its time-release formulation, OxyContin.

Oxycodone accounted for 31 percent of offenses stemming from Wednesday’s arrests, Gallant said.

“OxyContin is a time-release pain reliever, but it has the same effects as heroin and it’s very addictive. The problem with this type of crime is that people legally have (painkillers) but what they do with them after the doctor gives them out is the problem.

“This was not an organized drug ring, but there were a lot of prescription drugs being transferred or exchanged and it appears that a lot of the people charged were known to one another,” Gallant added.

Officers participating in the raids included Rumford, Mexico, Dixfield, Oxford County and State Police, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Maine Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, two State Police drug-sniffing dogs were used.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.