Suspects identified in meth lab bust

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Tenants in a house here with rental units were evicted earlier this year for falling behind on rent. After they were out, in late January, the landlord scheduled a thorough cleanup of the space.

Within half an hour of arrival, the cleaning crew stopped working and asked the landlord to call the police. They suspected the apartment had served as a meth lab.

A Southwest Harbor officer was first on site. Based on the officer’s observations, Chief Alan Brown decided to involve the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The agency has since identified suspects in its investigation of the case, according to Supervisory Special Agent Chris Thornton with the DEA Downeast Division. Further details on the case have not been released yet, he said, because the investigation is ongoing.

Agents with the Downeast Task Force and the Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Enforcement Team who inspected the site in late January confirmed that the items at the apartment were consistent with the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

What distinguishes agents in the team from others is the special equipment they wear, which protects them from a potentially volatile and caustic environment, Thornton said. This allows them to investigate an area more closely and assess whether it was used as an active lab or a dump site.

The landlord estimated that cleanup and refurbishment costs to make the apartment habitable again could be $25,000.

Thornton said this is the first significant meth lab involvement on Mount Desert Island since he assumed the position of supervisor in May 2017.

Henriette Chacar

Henriette Chacar

Former Islander reporter Henriette Chacar covered the towns of Southwest Harbor and Tremont.
Henriette Chacar

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