#BREAKING: Lewiston police say possible method lab in Lisbon St building. Tenants talk about being evacuated and what authorities told them. Full story here: http://bit.ly/1QxsXgm

Posted by Sun Journal on Friday, January 29, 2016

LEWISTON — Two men were arrested Friday afternoon and charged with operating a methamphetamine lab in a Lisbon Street apartment building across from the Police Department.

Police and drug agents raided the building at 333 Lisbon St. Hours later, at 5:30 p.m., they headed to a second suspected meth lab, an apartment above the Black Shark Tropical Fish store at Sabattus and Orchard streets.

The second location is believed to be linked to the first, investigators said. Police blocked off a section of Orchard Street as drug technicians prepared to enter the building. 

Just after noon Friday police evacuated the four-story Lisbon Street building and blocked downtown streets between Lisbon and Cedar and Park and Spruce.

Police and Maine Drug Enforcement Agency agents arrived at the building shortly before the evacuation to investigate a report of a meth lab, Police Chief Michael Bussiere said.

During that investigation, Bussiere said, investigators found evidence that needed further examination and police treated the scene as a possible meth lab or “at least a small-pot-type of combination,” he said.

A team of local police and MDEA agents had been investigating the possibility of a meth lab since around midnight that led them to that location, he said. 

“We’re calling in other members of the team to do a cleanup and further investigation,” Bussiere said. That team traveled from Bangor. 

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant. Preparing the drug is considered dangerous because of the chemicals involved and chemical reactions that create fumes and the risk of fire or explosion.

Lewiston police said Joseph Marcous, 29, and Samuel Johnson, 28, who live at the two raided locations, were each arrested and charged with unlawful operation of a methamphetamine lab. 

Marcous lives at 333 Lisbon St., police said, while Johnson lives in the apartment above The Black Shark. 

They were taken to Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where each was being held on $15,000 cash bail Friday night.

Police took Marcous into custody at his Lisbon Street apartment and interviewed him at the police station before making the arrest. He was decontaminated, then taken to a local hospital to have his medical condition checked, police said.

According to people leaving the building, they were told there may be a meth lab there and they were to leave. They were also told it would be three to four hours before they could return to the building.

Wanda Hoppe, a first-floor tenant who has lived there since September, said the building’s alarm went off. “I opened the door to see what was going on,” she said. “One of the cops came in and told us, ‘Everybody out.'”

Several tenants said they had never smelled chemicals or suspected that meth was being cooked in the building.

By 4:30 p.m., drug technicians were suiting up and heading into the building to process evidence and to begin cleaning up. Tenants were told that it would be another two hours before they’d be able to return to their apartments.

“I’ve got medication in there and I need to take it,” one man said. “They won’t even let me go in and get it.”

The tenants were allowed back into their homes a short time later, after the building was cleaned and aired out.

About 20 people were ordered to leave the building on Lisbon Street, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. This was the sixth meth lab response by the MDEA this year, he said.

Police said they began investigating after learning that chemicals were possibly being used in a drug operation in the apartment above The Black Shark. The owner of the pet store, police said, does not live there and had rented the space to Johnson.

Police said there had been a small fire recently at Johnson’s apartment as a result of the meth operation. He and Marcous then moved their equipment to the apartment on Lisbon Street, police said.

Investigators said it appeared that Johnson and Marcous had been making meth for their own consumption. Lewiston Fire Prevention was investigating the fire that occurred above The Black Shark. Police said more charges may be filed.

In a house across the street from The Black Shark, a couple said they never saw anything suspicious at the apartment above the pet store. They became aware of the situation Friday morning when police went there to begin their investigation.

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