June 14, 2012FREEDOM — Thousands of prescription pills stolen from a distribution center in Portland, Maine have been recovered in Freedom, and Maine police are giving kudos to police here for their cooperation.
In documents obtained exclusively by this newspaper, police spell out the details of a three-month investigation. On April 20 South Portland Police responded to investigate a theft of a large amount of pills from Freedom Xpress, a shipping and distribution center. That company receives shipments from companies all across the country, receiving just about anything that can be shipped such as, according to police, library books, household goods – and prescription drugs. The shipments are received, the loads broken down, and packed into smaller vehicles where they are delivered around the region. One shipment routinely received, according to police documents, is several pallets of medication from a warehouse in Massachusetts. Police were brought in to investigate 9,000 pills that were found missing from the shipment that was intended to be delivered to Togus Veteran's Hospital in Augusta, Maine. The missing pills included the painkillers Oxycodone, Morphine, and Meperidine as well as the drugs Dextroamphetamine and Methyphenidate which are prescribed mainly to treat narcolepsy and attention disorders. All of these medications are listed as having the potential to be highly addictive.
As a result of the investigation, Maine police officers arrested Erik Whitehurst and Kristin Roberts, both of Portland and both employees of Freedom Xpress. According to South Portland Det. Sgt. Stephen Webster, there will likely be an additional arrest in this case. At the time of their arrests, Roberts and Whitehurst had felony criminal records and, in fact, Roberts was on probation for a felony burglary charge.
Fast forward to June when police questioned a jailed Whitehurst about where they could find the thousands of missing pills. He said they should look to his former girlfriend, the mother of his child. Through further investigation, they were able to track her down and she had moved to New Hampshire from Portland, Maine and was staying with relatives at 39 Olde Yankee Drive in Freedom.
With the help of South Portland Police, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, and Madison Police, the Freedom Police Department – specifically Freedom Police Chief Josh Shackford and Sgt. James Mullen – were able to obtain and serve a search warrant on that house as well as the woman's car. Police are not releasing the identity of the 30-year-old former girlfriend at this time, saying that she has been cooperating with police and has not been charged in connection with the case. The owners of the home are not linked to this crime as police believe that they had no knowledge that the drugs were being stored in their house.
Police arrived at the home during the evening of June 7 with search warrant in hand and proceeded to search for the missing drugs. They collected 1,800 Morphine pills, 700 Methyphenidate, 2,200 Oxycodone, and about 1,000 other assorted pills as well as several empty pill bottles and blister packs as well as syringes.
"This would never have happened if not for the cooperation of the police officers there," said Webster, "I give all the credit in the world to them for stepping up to the plate and getting a lot of pills off the street."