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7 people arrested in Washington County after month-long MDEA investigation into drug trafficking

The investigation is ongoing with more arrests expected, according to police.
Credit: Washington County Sheriff's Office

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Maine — The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) on Tuesday announced the arrests of seven people in Washington County. The people arrested are from Maine and Massachusetts, and are now facing drug trafficking charges.

Arrested were:

  • Kayla Thistlewood, 27, of Baileyville, ME
  • Franz Morris, 57, of New Bedford, MA
  • Bailey Bryant, 24, of Jonesboro, ME
  • David Seale, 36, of New Bedford, MA
  • Cole Kennedy, 35, of Milbridge, ME
  • Matthew Small, 42, of Cherryfield, ME
  • Jonathan Johnson, 37, of Columbia, ME

For the past month, MDEA agents initiated an investigation after identifying a drug trafficking network based in New Bedford, MA, was trafficking significant quantities of cocaine, cocaine base, and heroin/fentanyl for distribution in Hancock and Washington counties. According to Maine State police, the investigation revealed out-of-state dealers would travel to Maine and recruit local drug distributors to increase their customer base. Police said the out-of-state dealers distributed their drugs from local residences in exchange for money and/or drugs. Agents conducted undercover purchases of illegal drugs from the group.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Jan. 12, agents stopped a vehicle on Route 182 in Cherryfield that was being operated by Thistlewood. The passenger in that vehicle was Morris, according to police. 

Police said Thistlewood is currently on federal probation as a result of an August 2020 incident where MDEA agents found her in possession of 263g of fentanyl, 43.1g of cocaine and 41.8 of cocaine base. Agents determined Thistlewood was in violation of her probation and was arrested on behalf of the United States Probation and Parole Office. 

With the assistance of a drug detection K-9 from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, agents seized 74g of cocaine HCl, 36.9g of cocaine base and 6.1g of fentanyl from Morris, according to police. Morris was arrested and transported to the Washington County Jail for class A aggravated trafficking in schedule W drugs. Also arrested during the same investigation was Bryant, for violation of conditions of release.

On Friday, Jan. 15, with the assistance of the Maine State Police Tactical Team and Washington County Sheriff’s Office, MDEA agents executed three search warrants in the towns of Columbia, Cherryfield and Milbridge. Agents arrested Small and Seale for class A aggravated trafficking of schedule W drugs (cocaine). Also arrested was Kennedy, for class A aggravated trafficking in schedule W drugs (heroin/fentanyl).

On Monday, Jan. 18, with the assistance of the State Police and Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson was arrested and transported to the Washington County Jail for class A aggravated trafficking in schedule W drugs.

Pictured (clockwise starting at top left): Kennedy, Seales, Morris, Small, Thistlewood, Johnson

NEWS CENTER Maine has not yet received Bryant's mugshot.

Credit: Washington County Sheriff's Office

The investigation is ongoing with more arrests expected, according to police.

Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maine State Police, and the Department of Homeland Security assisted MDEA.

If you have information about this investigation or the illegal sale of drugs in Maine, you are urged to contact the MDEA office closest to you by texting MDEA to TIP411 (847411) or calling the MDEA tip-line at 800-452-6457.