March 13, 2010

Motel owner among three arrested on drug charges

— From staff reports

PORTLAND — Police arrested three people, including a Bar Harbor motel operator, on cocaine trafficking charges after following a pair of suspects from Bangor to Portland and seizing them after an alleged drug deal.

Police seized $24,000 worth of cocaine as well as cash, a gun and a stun gun as part of the investigation.

Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigators have been tracking a cocaine distribution ring in greater Bangor for several months, police said.

The investigation led them to follow two people, Neal Higgins, 30, of Bangor and Joanne Munce, 52, of Bar Harbor.

Munce, who owns and operates the Rockhurst Motel, was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in federal court in 1991 and served 57 months in prison, police said.

Agents followed the pair south to Portland on Wednesday.

Portland MDEA joined the operation, and Munce was seen meeting with Brenda Sue Beeler in a Forest Avenue restaurant parking lot, authorities said.

Shortly afterward, police stopped both cars and seized about 1 ounce of cocaine worth $2,000 from Munce, police said.

Police seized $2,000 and a Taser from Beeler, 25, of Portland.

They searched Beeler's apartment on White Birch Lane and said they found three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, sleeping alone in the apartment.

Police said they also found a half-pound of cocaine worth about $22,000 and a loaded handgun.

They also seized two cars involved in the transaction, Munce's 2008 Toyota Scion and Beeler's 1999 Volkswagon Passat.

All three suspects are free on bail pending a court date.

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