WATERVILLE — Three Waterville residents and a New York man were arrested and charged in connection with a drug trafficking operation after Waterville police searched an Elm Street apartment at noon Thursday.

Waterville police Chief Joe Massey said detectives from the department’s drug unit had been investigating the case for a month before they gathered enough information to merit a search of the property.

Upon entering the apartment, officers found a “significant” amount of drugs, according to Massey.

A total of 100.65 grams of crack cocaine and 35.84 grams of fentanyl were seized.

“One individual, David Harper, was actively in the process of bagging crack cocaine at the time they entered,” Massey said.

Harper, a 33-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, was arrested on two charges of aggravated trafficking in a schedule W drug — one involving crack cocaine and one involving fentanyl — as well as a charge of conspiring to traffic in drugs. The trafficking charges are class A crimes, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. The conspiracy charge, a class B crime, can result in up to 10 years of prison time and a fine of as much as $20,000.

Three residents of the 18 Elm St. No. 2 apartment also were arrested Thursday afternoon. Linda J. Rice, 49, and her husband, Richard Rice, 52, were each charged with two counts of aggravated trafficking in fentanyl, one count of aggravated trafficking in crack cocaine and a charge of criminal conspiracy to traffic in drugs. Richard Rice, who was on probation for a domestic violence assault conviction, was charged with a probation violation in addition.

Nicole Gormley, 26, was arrested on charges of unlawfully possessing the schedule W drug ceroxim, a class D crime; unlawfully possessing another schedule W drug, psycho-benzamide, a class E crime; and violating conditions of release. She also was placed on a probation hold. For the class D crime, Gormley could face up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Class E crimes are punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

None of the individuals posted bail and all are currently being held at the Kennebec County jail in Augusta. Cash bail for Linda and Richard Rice was set at $18,500 each. Gormley’s bail was $750. Harper’s bail, at $425,000, was higher than the others’ mainly because he is from out of state, according to Massey.

Harper, Linda and Richard Rice are scheduled to appear March 25 at Augusta Superior Court, while Gormley will appearMarch 19 in Waterville District Court.

Massey said that this type of drug operations has not been uncommon in Waterville lately. While he said he could not provide an exact number of how many active drug investigations the department has open, he noted that “at any given time, there’s the potential of dozens we could be working on.”

“We’re seeing these hard drugs, opioids, sold in our communities, and we will continue to hold individuals accountable and charge those selling drugs in our city,” said Massey.

He added that cases related to the trafficking of “hard narcotics” often involve a person from out of state.

“What they’ll do is, they’ll find someone to give them a place of operation and funnel their drugs daily,” Massey said.

The chief said that it is unclear at this point how many people Harper and the Rices sold scheduled drugs to.

“Sometimes we don’t get the complete picture of the clientele. We just get an informant saying they think someone (is selling drugs from a particular location),” Massey said.

In this case, Massey added, “The drug unit received information about drugs being sold  — crack cocaine and fentanyl — and during that investigation, there was enough information to provide probable cause to obtain a search warrant. … It was a good investigation with a good result.”


Meg Robbins — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @megrobbins

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