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Residents respond to Madawaska meth lab bust

ST. JOHN VALLEY, Maine — When the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency charged a Madawaska couple on Wednesday for allegedly operating a methamphetamine lab inside their Main Street home, the news quickly spread throughout the St. John Valley. Community responses included shock and dismay that such a dangerous drug has arrived in the area, and concern over the welfare of the two young children living where the drug was being made.

“I’m mind boggled that (methamphetamine) is even here. It’s so close to home,” said Angela Coulombe of Wallagrass. “It is very dangerous and it is very scary, not only for those individuals who are around the area but for the children in the home.”

With the assistance of the Madawaska Police Department, the MDEA arrested and charged Carl and Casie Thibeault with aggravated trafficking in methamphetamine, aggravated operation of a meth lab and endangering the welfare of a child.

Danielle Thibeault and her mother Rolande Thibeault, both of Fort Kent, dined at Jeff’s Pizza in Madawaska on Wednesday, April 19, the day of the arrests. Danielle said she was disappointed to learn that meth had made its way to The Valley.

“I was hoping it was still downstate more,” she said. She added that, as St. John Valley goes, she does not feel the problem is exclusive to Madawaska.

“I’m sure there’s some (more meth houses) and that we don’t even know about it.”

Francoise Daigle of Wallagrass said she feels northern Maine’s experience with the meth epidemic will continue after the Madawaska arrests.

“We know that it will come up again. Unfortunately, it is out there and it’s time to expose it,” she said.

Another community member who said he would like to see more police resources devoted to the meth epidemic is Madawaska resident Gil Dionne, 42.

“I’m not shocked. This has been going on for a long time, and nothing has been done about it,” Dionne said on Wednesday. “This is just one bust. … A lot of locals here know what’s going on. A lot of people are scared to talk about it.”

Dionne said he is a disabled veteran and father who is concerned for Valley youth if the community fails to do more to address the meth epidemic. He said he has personally witnessed people using meth and other drugs, and that heroin and bath salts are also available in Madawaska.

“Anything that you can find in the big city you can find right here in this little town — anything,” he said.  

Dionne said he would like to see a more aggressive approach from local law enforcement to address illegal drug activity.

“People need to start asking questions and start demanding some answers. You can’t just ignore this; it doesn’t go away. There’s a whole generation of kids coming up, and, if nobody does something about this, what happens?

“A lot of people have the mindset that people who get in trouble like this are horrible people, (but) … this is like an epidemic, and this happens to everybody. This happens to doctors, lawyers. Everyone has the mentality that it’s some bum or something like that, but these are good people this happens to. It can happen to anybody,” he said.

Dionne expressed concern that once news about the recent drug arrests quiets down, so will concern about the local meth epidemic.

“This is a hot topic right now, but next week people will probably have forgotten about it. … Is that (recent bust) going to pacify the people or are they going to really start taking care of this problem?”

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