An employee at West Gardiner’s transfer station is charged with manufacturing drugs on town property.

Patrick Deschamps, 24, of Gardiner, was arrested Monday afternoon on a charge of unlawful trafficking in the scheduled X drug hash, said Maine State Police Trooper Christopher Rogers. The charge is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Hash is a potent form of marijuana.

Deschamps was being held Monday night at the Kennebec County Jail in lieu of $600 cash bail.

Rogers said town officials contacted police Monday with a concern that an employee was manufacturing drugs on town property near the transfer station.

“They’d been out there and seen it and spoken to Patrick about it,” Rogers said.

Town officials took photos of the drug and sent them to Rogers, who identified it as hash. Rogers met with Deschamps shortly after receiving the call. He initially denied knowing about the manufacturing operation.

“Ultimately, he did admit that he was producing something out back,” Rogers said.

Rogers collected the evidence and secured a warrant to search Deschamps’ car and house. Additional evidence of drug manufacturing was discovered during those searches, Rogers said.

“He was doing it while working, on the clock, at the town dump,” Rogers said.

The trafficking charge in this case is not necessarily based on the amount of drugs the police found, but by the alleged manufacturing process.

“Someone who’s making a drug is presumed, by state law, to be trafficking,” Rogers said.

West Gardiner Selectman Merton Hickey said he had not heard Deschamps had been arrested until contacted by the Kennebec Journal. He said he was surprised by the development, but acknowledged that rumors of illegal activity had reached town officials.

“We can’t allow that,” Hickey said. “It’s not good. It’s not good any way, whether he’s working or whether he isn’t working.”

Hickey said town employees who drive vehicles are regularly drug tested, but transfer station employees have historically not been tested. The town is in the process of implementing a testing plan for those employees, Hickey said.

“We just thought maybe we ought to be testing the people at the dump because they run forklifts and front end loaders and there’s a lot of traffic coming and going,” Hickey said. “They shouldn’t be high on anything. That was just getting going. None of them had been tested.”

Hickey said selectmen at their next meeting will discuss how to move forward. He’s unsure at this point what will happen to Deschamps job.

“Somebody’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty,” Hickey said.

Deschamps, who in 2011 was profiled in a Kennebec Journal story for his growing talents, has worked for the town for a number of years, Hickey said. He said Deschamps is quiet and polite and interacts well with those who use the transfer station.

“He was a good worker,” Hickey said. “When he first landed there, he was real good. He was always good to the public.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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Twitter: @CraigCrosby4