From the Maine Attorney General’s Office:
Attorney General Janet T. Mills applauds the initiatives in the new state budget to fight drug trafficking and to fund the Cold Case Homicide Unit.
Among the scores of items funded in the $6.7 billion two-year budget plan are initiatives to address Maine’s drug epidemic. The budget funds up to six drug new enforcement agents and two new drug prosecutors to handle major drug crimes. The budget also funds two new judges and two new clerks for the Court System to handle the increased caseload.
“Opiate abuse, particularly heroin abuse, is the most pressing public safety issue in Maine right now,” said Attorney General Mills. “Last year 208 people in Maine died as a result of drug overdose. The Legislature was right to attack these traffickers that are invading our state with this deadly poison.”
The 208 drug overdose deaths in 2014 represented an eighteen percent increase over the previous year and the most ever recorded in Maine. The Maine Drug Task Force attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office are also seeing a jump in the number of heroin cases they handle, up 272 percent between 2012 and 2014.
The state budget also includes two state police detectives and one crime lab technician to investigate unsolved homicides in Maine. These positions will be Department of Public Safety employees who will work with an already established Assistant Attorney General to investigate homicide cases where a perpetrator has not yet been brought to justice.
“Our goal is to work with law enforcement to solve a case as quickly as possible. Many years we are able to close one hundred percent of the murder cases in Maine,” said Attorney General Mills. “Those cases that are not immediately solved never go cold for the investigators and prosecutors assigned to them. Funding these three positions will give us greater capacity and dedicated resources to pursue older cases without interruption. We are encouraging the Department of Public Safety to begin the hiring process and to bring on board qualified, experienced personnel as soon as possible. Then we will prioritize the many cases that merit further investigation, to bring closure and long-awaited justice to the families of victims.”