SOUTH THOMASTON — Drug agents armed with a warrant and clothed in hazardous materials suits searched a home in South Thomaston on Tuesday, seeking to dismantle a suspected methamphetamine lab as part of an ongoing effort to keep the drug from getting a foothold in the state.

Police seized chemicals and equipment used to produce the highly addictive, damaging drug and arrested the resident of the house on St. George Road, Paul Mahonen, 36, on charges of trafficking in methamphetamine.

He is being held in Knox County Jail on $5,000 bail.

Agents with Maine Drug Enforcement Agency have been busting up an average of a lab a month since the beginning of 2012, most in the northern part of the state. The volatile chemicals are prone to explosion, forcing agents to wear protective suits.

Tuesday’s raid was the third this month.

Two weeks ago, agents raided a lab in Smyrna, which led to the arrest of a couple in their 30s. Last month, agents arrested three people in a raid on a lab in Houlton.

The MDEA says it raided 13 meth labs in 2012, with eight of those in northern Maine’s Aroostook County. The labs are typically labs where operators are making relatively small amounts of the drug, often limited by their access to the chemicals needed to make it.

“The number is of concern given the nature of the dangers inherent with the drug production, the costs associated with response to these sites and limited resources” of the agency, said MDEA Director Roy Mc-Kinney.

The MDEA raided one meth lab in York County last year and has had none in Cumberland County in recent years.

Tuesday’s raid in South Thomaston, in Knox County, took place at the house where Leonard Wells, 53, of Greenbush, was arrested last week allegedly with 20 grams of bath salts. Wells was already out on bail after being arrested in January in connection with the state’s largest-ever bath salts bust, which led to the seizure of 18 pounds of bath salts in Maine and Texas.

The MDEA was assisted in the search by the Department of Environmental Protection, State Police, Knox County Sheriff’s deputies, South Thomaston fire and rescue workers and the federal DEA.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

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