A Rumford man whose 2016 arrest for fentanyl trafficking landed him in jail — and in former Gov. Paul LePage’s infamous “binder full of drug dealers” — was arrested again in August on charges of fentanyl trafficking.
Rashaud Lavoie, 30, was one of eight Maine residents charged with drug-related crimes following a joint operation between the FBI’s Southern Maine Gang Task Force, Mexico Police, Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, and Maine State Police.
Lavoie has had frequent run-ins with Maine law enforcement since relocating to Maine from Lawrence, Mass. His first arrest in Maine came in 2013 following his involvement in the daylight mugging of 19-year-old man in Rumford.
Lavoie was arrested for aggravated trafficking of a schedule W drug on August 25, 2015 and sentenced to 90 days incarceration. That arrest stemmed from an investigation into the overdose death of a Bethel man, according to the Lewiston newspaper. Lavoie was arrested again in March of 2016 and charged with aggravate trafficking of a schedule W drug, along with violating the conditions of his release from the earlier arrest.
Following his 2016 arrest, Lavoie could have faced ten years in prison for aggravated trafficking. However, prosecutors in the Attorney General’s office, led at the time by Gov. Janet Mills, opted for a more lenient sentence. He received four years incarceration and three years probation.
“[W]e were fully responsible for the case from its inception and recommended a sentence that was an appropriate balance of the criminal conduct involved and the defendant’s criminal history,” said Special Assistant to the Maine Attorney General Danna Hayes.
She said the sentencing was not overly lenient.
“The defendant was required to serve 4 years, less good time, prior to his release,” she said. “The decision to suspend a portion of his sentence was ultimately up to the court, although it was recommended as part of the plea agreement.”
Lavoie’s third arrest for trafficking schedule W drugs, typically heroin or fentanyl, comes amid a surge in overdose deaths and drug addiction across the state.
Fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, has been linked nationally to an increasing overdose deaths, and Maine has not been spared.
In a recent report to the Maine State Legislature, University of Maine researchers found a shocking increase in overdose deaths. In 2019, Maine reported 380 overdose deaths. That number rose to 636 in 2021. According to the researchers, a large and growing proportion of overdose deaths can be attributed to fentanyl.
Fentanyl, which can be cheaply synthesized in black market labs, is 25 times more potent than prescription painkiller Oxycodone, 50x-100x more potent than heroin, according to UMaine researchers.
Another national trend that hasn’t spared Maine is the movement toward lenient sentencing or non-prosecution for a host of crimes, including many drug related offenses.
In Maine’s first gubernatorial debate, Mills and LePage sparred over their differing policies for handling the opioid epidemic.