A federal investigation into a drug ring in Androscoggin County that led to a dozen arrests last month started more than a year ago, when police found a couple with thousands of dollars in cash and drugs during a traffic stop, according to federal court documents unsealed Thursday.

On Feb. 25, 2013, police in Auburn stopped a car driven by Ashley Gleason, 22, of Auburn. Gleason was free on bail in another case, which enabled police to search her and her vehicle at random times.

Her boyfriend, Jacques “Face” Victor, 34, of Auburn, was in the passenger seat, according to a search warrant application that was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland in December but remained under seal by a judge’s order until Thursday.

Police found $4,341 in cash stuffed into Gleason’s bra during that search, and the staff at the Androscoggin County Jail later found cocaine, heroin and oxycodone pills in her jacket pocket during a more thorough search, according to an affidavit filed by Joey Brown, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Police searched Victor and found $5,812 in his pockets, $1,007 in his wallet and $1,150 in his right shoe. Victor admitted there was another $2,000 in the glove compartment, Brown said in the affidavit.

“Victor claimed he made money buying and selling four wheelers and dirt bikes,” Brown wrote.

That traffic stop led federal authorities to use an informant in late 2013 to make a series of phone calls to Gleason, Victor and the accused leader of the drug ring, Romelly “Marcus” Dastinot, 33, of Lewiston. Those phone calls led to drug purchases by the informant from Dastinot and Gleason in December, according to the unsealed documents.

In a broader investigation after those initial steps, federal authorities obtained indictments against 16 people and gathered more than 60 law enforcement officers on May 22 to make coordinated arrests in Lewiston, Auburn and Massachusetts.

Those arrested so far include Gleason, Victor, Dastinot and nine others on charges ranging from felony drug trafficking conspiracy, punishable by up to 40 years in prison and fines of $5 million, to unlawful use of a communication facility, punishable by as much as four years in prison.

The others arrested are: Pierre “Cookie” Dubois, 24, of Massachusetts; Dimitry “Jimmy” Gordon, 41, of Lewiston; Jean Valbrun, 26, of Lowell, Massachusetts; Jonathan Duffaud, 23, of Lowell, Massachusetts; Pierre “Cash” Azor, 32, of Lewiston; Carrie “Grandma” Buntrock, 52, of Lewiston; Mekayla Farley, 22, of Lewiston; Stephen Chadwick, 25, of Lewiston; and Richard McKenzie, 31, of Lewiston.

Federal authorities have declined to say how many more arrests may be made.

The 12 who have been arrested have pleaded not guilty. Most remain held, but some of them have been released on bail.

Authorities are also seeking to seize an unspecified amount of money and goods paid for with illegal proceeds from the drug ring, according to an indictment.

Authorities identified Gleason’s white 2004 Audi A6 as one of the items they are seeking to seize through forfeiture, the indictment says.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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Twitter: @scottddolan