LEWISTON — One man was arrested and a variety of substances were seized Wednesday when police and drug agents raided a suspected methamphetamine lab on Omer Street.

James Ludlow, 35, of 8 Omer St., was charged with possession of methamphetamine after police found evidence of the drug inside his apartment. Ludlow was arrested while he was working at a nearby business, police said. He was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where he remained later Wednesday night.

At about 3 p.m., dozens of Maine Drug Enforcement agents, police officers and others went to the two-family home at the corner of Omer and Baril streets. Since last year, agents had been investigating reports that meth was being used and possibly manufactured at an apartment there.

For the next four hours, drug agents in chemical-resistant suits and ventilators carried a variety of substances and other items out of the building. They examined and tested those items at the scene and bagged several as evidence.

Investigators said there was ample evidence of the presence of meth inside the house. In coming days, police and drug agents will attempt to learn more about where the drug came from.

“Whether or not that meth production took place here or somewhere else, we’re not prepared to confirm that,” said MDEA Division Commander Darrell O. Crandall.

When the team first went to Omer Street, their presence was heavy. Police, drug and environmental officials were joined by firefighters, rescue crews and others. Crandall said the first part of the response was to make sure the building was clear, that everyone was removed from the building and that obvious safety hazards were identified.

“We let them work at a safe pace,” Crandall said.

When drug agents first arrived, with a search warrant, there was one young woman inside the apartment, police said. She was taken out and placed in an MDEA mobile crime van. The woman was not arrested.

Neighbors said they had no idea that anything like an illegal drug operation was going on at the neat, two-story house.

“We never would have thought this was going on,” said Adam Carlton, who lives on the dead-end portion of Omer Street. “They’re really friendly people. They have friends that were over but no more than you or I would have.”

Crandall said he did not know how many people lived in the apartment. Carlton said there were occasional poker games there, but he did not know specifically how many people lived their, either.

He had not heard anything about the possibility of drugs being used in the apartment.

“I don’t want it on my street. Nobody wants it on their street,” Carlton said. “With drugs come violence. Anything could go wrong.”

The neighborhood is a quiet one, with few complaints of crime or other matters, said Deputy Chief James Minkowsky of the Lewiston Police Department. But that is not always an indication that a neighborhood is drug-free.

“It’s a good neighborhood. It’s certainly not a high crime area,” Minkowsky said. “But there is really no typical area for this kind of thing.”

Ludlow was being held without bail Wednesday night, charged with meth possession and violating bail from an earlier, unrelated arrest.


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