WATERVILLE — Police arrested two people on aggravated drug charges Wednesday after a two-year investigation, according to police.

Ruben Rincon, 32, and Amanda Sanipas, 29, were both arrested around 10 a.m. after police executed a search warrant that found $13,000 in drugs and more than $3,500 in cash, according to a news release from Deputy Chief Bill Bonney.

The investigation began two years ago when Waterville Detective Duane Cloutier allegedly conducted undercover purchases of heroin from Sanipas, who lives with Rincon at an apartment at the Home Place Inn at 150 College Ave. in Waterville.

Cloutier, working with Somerset County Sheriff Detective Lt. Carl Gottardi, found that Sapinas and Rincon, who is from Lowell, Massachusetts, allegedly were distributing “a large amount” of heroin in the Waterville area. Police allege that Sapinas and Rincon would drive to Lowell to receive drugs and bring them back to Waterville.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency also assisted in surveillance, the news release says.

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant on the pair during a traffic stop on Sturtevant Street and said they found small amounts of cocaine and either fentanyl or acetyl fentanyl on Rincon.

Fentanyl is a narcotic used to treat pain that can be 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin. Acetyl fentanyl is a designer drug that is about 15 times stronger than heroin.

“Sanipas and Rincon had been selling the Fentanyl or Acetyl Fentanyl as Heroin putting those suffering from substance abuse disorder at extreme risk of overdose,” Bonney said in the news release.

At the apartment on College Avenue, officers found about 80 grams of fentanyl or acetyl fentanyl and 5.3 grams of cocaine. They also found three sandwich bags full of marijuana, a PT-92 Taurus 9 mm handgun, $3,640 in cash and what Bonney described as enough opioid-related drug paraphernalia to “fill a grocery bag.”

Officers also found one dose of Narcan, a nasal spray of the drug naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergencies.

Sanipas was arrested on two charges of unlawful trafficking in schedule W drugs for the heroin, a class B felony, and one charge of aggravated trafficking in schedule W drugs for the fentanyl or acetyl fentanyl, a class A felony; and on a warrant for failure to pay fines for operating after a suspension, with prior offenses.

Rincon was arrested on a charge of aggravated trafficking of schedule W drugs, a class A felony. He was also summoned on a charge of possession of schedule W drugs, a class D misdemeanor, for the cocaine officers found.

Both were brought to the Kennebec County jail. Sanipas is being held on a cash bail of $4,878 and will appear in court at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. on Jan. 23, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.

Rincon is being held on a surety bail of $20,000, meaning someone has to place $20,000 worth of property for his bail. His bail also comes with the condition that he not leave Maine. He is scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 12 in court at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

Law enforcement officials called for a “multi-faceted approach” to the growing drug epidemic, but also praised the work detectives did across different departments.

“This type of teamwork is exactly what our communities need to help reduce the supply of deadly opiates in our community,” Bonney said in a statement.

Waterville Chief Joseph Massey said in a statement that it is “imperative” that people confront the growing effect of drugs in communities.

“There is no one approach to this scourge that affects so many individuals,” he said. “I believe we need a multi-faceted approach of aggressive enforcement, education and treatment if we are to make inroads in reducing and treating opiate abuse. Law enforcement agencies are working cooperatively to bring about successful drug investigations such as this one.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

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Twitter: @madelinestamour