By Zendelle Bouchard
At the November 6, 2023 City Council meeting, Police Chief Craig Andersen made a presentation on two regional task forces with which Sanford Police Department members are involved.
Detective Erik Rae works part-time with the Southern Maine Gang Task Force (SMGTF) which is run out of the FBI’s Boston Division. There are approximately 160 of these task forces throughout the country, which focus on drug trafficking, firearms violations and racketeering, as well as assisting local law enforcement with violent, high profile, or interstate crimes. Andersen said much of the organized illegal activity in Maine originates from Mass., New York and other states, including burglary rings and catalytic converter thefts as well as drug trafficking enterprises.
The SMGTF has been responsible for 49 arrests resulting in 31 convictions. Among the 57 drug seizures was 41.8 pounds of cocaine base, 6.2 pounds of fentanyl and 10.8 pounds of methamphetamine. Andersen noted that that amount of fentanyl represents 1.4 million lethal doses. He added that the SMGTF had the highest number of judicial accomplishments of any task force in the Boston Division, which includes Maine, N.H., R.I. and Mass. In addition to getting criminals off the streets, Sanford’s participation in the task force also benefits local taxpayers, because Rae’s training and vehicle is paid for by the FBI, as well as his overtime while working with them.
Two of Sanford’s officers also work full-time with one of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s eight task forces. The Task Forces focus on disrupting traffic by upper and mid-level drug dealers who don’t warrant interest by federal authorities. Each Task Force is a collaboration between state, county and local agencies. The local five-person Task Force was responsible for seizing 5.8 pounds of fentanyl and 1.8 pounds of methamphetamine. They made 28 arrests and seized 19 firearms. Sanford’s participation in the Task Force has a direct benefit to the City, with many more investigations conducted here than in any other area community. The full salaries, benefits and vehicles for the two officers, who were not named because they work undercover, are paid for by the MDEA.