WATERVILLE — Five people face drug charges after police on Wednesday searched three homes and seized prescription medications, some of which was allegedly being sold on the street.
The three searches were not related but were the result of ongoing investigations that involved undercover operations in which medications were sold to police, according to deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey.
“Really, it underscores how pervasive and how overwhelming the abuse of prescription drugs is on the street in Waterville,” Rumsey said Thursday.
“If it weren’t for the challenges of investigating crimes related to heroin, cocaine and marijuana, our two members of the drug unit could stay busy for their entire work week investigating prescription drug offenses.”
Drug unit officials, Detective Dan Goss and Officer Duane Cloutier, along with members of the Kennebec Valley Drug Task Force, searched a home at 6 Pine St. just after 7 a.m. Wednesday and arrested Michael Dicent, 31, and his wife, Katie, 23, and charged them with a variety of charges relating to the possession of prescription drugs, including felony possession of Vicodin and Percocet, which are pain medications, Rumsey said.
The couple also was charged with unlawful furnishing of Schedule Z drugs because police seized three ounces of marijuana; and misdemeanor charges for possession of other drugs.
An infant and 10-year-old were in the home at the time of the search, Rumsey said.
“We seized 35 1/2 pills that were a variety of different pills, resulting in charges of both felony and misdemeanor possession,” he said.
The Russos were released on unsecured cash bail of $7,500 each and are scheduled to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta at 8 a.m. Aug. 25.
“This is was fairly long-term investigation and during the investigation, our officers learned that a fairly substantial amount of prescription drugs were being sold from this residence,” Rumsey said.
Officers searched another home at 132 Water St. at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday after police got information that the occupants had been selling a large number of prescription pills from the home, Rumsey said. Undercover police also purchased pills there as part of the investigation, he said.
In that search, Violet E. Russo, 55, and her husband, John Edward Russo, 46, were arrested an charged with unlawful trafficking in Schedule W drugs and unlawful possession of Schedule Z drugs, Rumsey said.
“What’s interesting in this case is that both of the (Russos) have prescriptions that allow them to receive large amounts of Hydrocodone and Oxycodone (pain medications) every month,” he said. “Within three weeks, since June 23, John Russo had two different prescriptions filled for 360 Hydrocodone and Oxycodone pills and they’re all gone. Violet Russo had a prescription filled for 120 Oxycodone pills on the eleventh of July. She had five left in the house when they did the search warrant.”
“So, it’s obvious to us that they are selling a large amount of prescription medication on the street and the crimes they’re charged with are fairly serious.”
He said the Russos were bailed at their home on $3,000 unsecured bail each, as both have medical conditions that would have made it difficult to take them to the police station. They are scheduled to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court at 8 a.m. Aug. 25. A young child also was present in that home when police arrived, Rumsey said.
In a third case Wednesday, police searched 76 Summer St., Apt. 1, at about 3 p.m. and arrested John Lafrance, 41, who was found to have 16 Hydrocodone and Oxycodone pills, Rumsey said. Lafrance was charged with Class C felony possession of scheduled drugs, he said.
Lafrance was on probation for burglary and theft at the time of his arrest and was charged with a probation violation. He was taken to Kennebec County Jail in Augusta, Rumsey said. Lafrance is to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court at 8 a.m. Oct. 13.
“Over the course of these three search warrants, we have charged these individuals with eight different felony crimes, nine different misdemeanor crimes and one civil,” Rumsey said.
He said Goss and Cloutier did an excellent job of investigating the cases and taking the drugs off the street.
“But they’re barely able to keep their heads above water with the workload,” he said.
All three searches took place in the city’s South End. Rumsey said the names of the five people arrested Wednesday, as well as other names of people police anticipate charging in connection with the investigations in the near future, will be added to a list on the department’s Prescription Drug Diversion Program.
As part of the program, pharmacists, doctors and other health care professionals will be made aware of the types and amounts of prescription medications those who were arrested have been receiving, both through properly obtained prescriptions and medications received on the street.
Rumsey said that the price for narcotics such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone varies on the street, but generally, the cost is $1 for every milligram. So, an 80 milligram pill would sell for $80 on the street.
Amy Calder — 861-9247
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