MEXICO – Twenty police officers and support personnel from 10 agencies will receive national recognition on Thursday for last year’s seizure of more than 4,000 marijuana plants and 193 pounds of pot.

The estimated street value of the total haul was from $7.8 million to $9 million, according to Gerry Baril of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in Lewiston.

Fifty-six suspects were arrested and prosecuted following investigations in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties during last summer and fall’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program.

Assisting the MDEA in the multi-agency collaboration were OH-58 helicopter pilots with the Maine Army National Guard, fixed-wing pilots with the Maine Warden Service, Civil Air Patrol, and Maine State Police, officers from sheriffs offices in each of the three counties, and Mexico and Lewiston police.

“This multi-agency collaboration in Western Maine has proven to be very effective in the eradication of marijuana and prosecution of the criminal elements involved in the domestic cultivation and distribution of marijuana in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties,” Baril said in a recent report.

In March, Baril nominated the following for the New England Narcotics Enforcement Officers’ Association’s Special Achievement award: MDEA’s special agent and coordinator Tony Milligan and special agent Brian Ross; Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. William Gagne; Franklin County Sheriff’s Lt. Niles Yeaton, Detective Thomas White and Deputies Heidi Gould and Steve Charles; Oxford County Sheriff’s Cpl. Chancey Libby, Sgt. Timothy Holland, and Deputy Michael Halacy; Lewiston police officer Brian Rose; Mexico police Chief James Theriault and Sgt. Roy Hodsdon; state police investigators Troopers Matt Casavant and Aaron Turcotte; Warden Service pilot Dan Dufault; and Maine Army National Guard helicopter pilots Joseph Bellwood, Eric Couture, Michael Pratt, and Darrell Stevens.

“The award represents superb individual achievement on their part,” Milligan stated.

The award will be presented at the annual NENEOA awards banquet on Thursday, May 22, at the Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis, Mass.

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