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St. Agatha man arrested, charged with trafficking cocaine

ST. AGATHA, Maine — Agents with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested and charged a St. Agatha man with multiple counts of aggravated trafficking in cocaine and escape on Friday.

The arrest of Eric Blanchette, 37, follows a criminal investigation that began in January and was initiated by information the Fort Kent Police Department provided to the MDEA, according to MDEA Commander Darrell Crandall.

Blanchette initially refused to open his door when officers arrived Friday to conduct a search, so the agents forced their way into the home, according to a press release issued Monday by Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

Once he was in custody and handcuffed in his driveway, Blanchette briefly broke free of the agents, according to McCausland. But after a brief foot pursuit, the agents regained custody of Blanchette and added a charge of escape.

“Cocaine was purchased from (Blanchette) on more than one occasion during the criminal investigation,” Crandall said Monday.

Agents searched Blanchette’s Bouchard Road home Friday with the assistance of members of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, Maine State Police, U.S. Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations.

Officers seized a cell phone allegedly used to facilitate drug transactions and cash which is alleged to have come from the sale of drugs.

The agents charged Blanchette with three counts of aggravated trafficking in cocaine, all Class A felonies. The charges were elevated to aggravated level because Blanchette was previously convicted of trafficking in cocaine in 2008.

If convicted on just one count of trafficking, Blanchette faces a minimum four year prison sentence, with a maximum allowable sentence of 30 years.

Blanchette was released from custody on Saturday after he posted $15,000 cash bail.

He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Monday, July 16, in Fort Kent District Court.

Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier said Monday that his department was able to share intelligence with the MDEA as a result of information the FKPD obtained while conducting a separate investigation in Fort Kent earlier this year. He declined to divulge details about the separate case.

“We have a great working relationship with MDEA and appreciate all they do to help move forward the eradication of illicit drugs in our community and in our region,” Pelletier said.

“MDEA is a statewide task force comprised of county, municipal, state, tribal and federal law enforcement officers, all working together to address the flow of illicit drugs into, out of and throughout the state of Maine,” Crandall said. “This tried and true task force concept lends itself very well to maintaining close relationships with all law enforcement agencies, which produces greater impact on the serious drug problem facing our state.”

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