LEWISTON – A Minot man described as the leader of a drug trafficking network that for three years provided crack cocaine and marijuana to users in Androscoggin County was sentenced Monday to 11 years in prison.

A U.S. District Court judge ordered 25-year-old Jeremy Mercier to a federal prison for his role in the trafficking ring that operated between 2004 and 2007.

Mercier was one of 17 area people indicted in January, accused in a federal complaint of conspiring to possess and sell more than 500 grams of crack.

In the indictment, Mercier was also accused of peddling powdered cocaine and marijuana. He later pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

In all, 14 men and three women were indicted at the start of the year on charges that they distributed crack and other drugs to users in several cities and towns across Androscoggin County. Some of the suspects were believed to have formed the ring and others are suspected of joining later.

On Jan. 18, local, state and federal police fanned out across the area, locating and arresting the suspects. All but one was captured during the daylong drug sweep and the final suspect was found later.

The suspects ranged in age from a woman in her early 20s who had recently given birth, to a Mechanic Falls woman believed to be in her late 50s. From the start, investigators described Mercier as the leader of the group. He faced up to 40 years in federal prison.

Cases against the others are pending.

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