SCARBOROUGH — A Connecticut man who Maine authorities say was trafficking more than 2 pounds of heroin worth $450,000 to Aroostook County was arrested Friday after a car crash that was followed by a manhunt on foot that lasted more than an hour.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency believes it was Maine’s largest seizure of heroin ever.

James Jamison, 33, of Waterbury, Connecticut, was taken into custody around noon while hiding in the Fairfield Inn Marriott hotel in Scarborough, near where he fled after the crash on Cummings Road at the intersection of Payne Road.

More than a dozen police and plainclothes agents from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency converged on the area to assist with the manhunt, which started just before 11 a.m. Police with dogs sought to track Jamison through the woods along Interstate 95 as others remained at the hotel. More officers diverted traffic around the crash on the busy thoroughfare lined with shopping plazas along the South Portland line near the Maine Mall.

Jamison’s arrest followed an MDEA investigation into Aroostook County drug trafficking that lasted several months and involved undercover drug purchases. During Jamison’s arrest, officers seized more than 2 pounds of heroin that had been prepackaged into individual bags for resale, according to MDEA Commander Peter Arno, who leads the agency’s northern division.

Agents first tried to intercept Jamison Friday morning while he was in a parking lot off Maine Mall Road in South Portland near the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Jamison then used his car to ram an MDEA vehicle with an arrest team inside, Arno said in a written statement.


South Portland police then tried to pull Jamison over, but they did not pursue when Jamison refused to comply and drove off, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Shortly afterward, before 11 a.m., Jamison was in the crash on Cummings Road, which involved multiple vehicles, and fled the scene on foot. Police initially reported that Jamison was believed to be armed, but McCausland said Friday afternoon that Jamison did not have a gun.

MDEA Commander Scott Pelletier, who heads the agency’s southern division, was in the parking lot in South Portland when police initially tried to arrest Jamison and called off the pursuit as soon as he sped off.

“When he left that parking lot after ramming us, he was almost on two wheels,” Pelletier said. “All things considered, we were very fortunate nobody was seriously injured.”

Pelletier said Jamison threw the drugs from the car as he drove off, and MDEA agents were still collecting the bags when the crash at Payne Road and Cummings Road was reported.

Officers searched the area during busy midday traffic, sending one team with two dogs through the woods to the parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart, where more than 100 people were shopping, pumping gas and pushing carts laden with items, apparently unaware of the drama unfolding around them.


Jamison managed to hide in the hotel by finding an open door to a hotel room that the staff was about to clean, then putting the “do not disturb” sign on the door and closing it. A police dog tracked him to the room, where he was taken into custody, McCausland said.

MDEA agents led him out in handcuffs around noon and put him into the backseat of a police vehicle as Maine State Police assisted.

Aroostook County had not been hit as hard as the southern part of the state by Maine’s heroin epidemic until recently. Jamison already had made drug deliveries to northern Maine in previous trips, and authorities are still assessing how much heroin he may have spread through the community, Pelletier said.

While heroin can sell for as little as $7 per bag in Connecticut, Jamison may have been able to sell it for as much as $35 per bag in Aroostook County, he said.

Police also seized the car Jamison had been driving and were waiting until they had a search warrant to see what it might contain, Pelletier said.

Jamison is being held on $100,000 cash bail at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland. He is charged with four felonies: reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault, eluding a police officer and driving to endanger. He also has been charged with a misdemeanor, leaving the scene of a personal injury crash. The most serious charge against him is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


Jamison has no prior criminal record in Maine, but he has a lengthy record in Connecticut for charges that include weapons and drug offenses, Pelletier said.

The Aroostook County District Attorney’s Office expects to bring further charges against Jamison related to heroin trafficking.

The investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible, the MDEA said.

The three MDEA agents who were in the vehicle that was rammed sustained minor injuries and were treated and released from Maine Medical Center in Portland, McCausland said.


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