LEWISTON, MAINE — Three people were charged in an ongoing police sweep Thursday, including a man officials say was walking on Pine Street with a loaded handgun.
Police also charged a suspected prostitute accused of turning a trick downtown and a man caught sipping liquor beneath a sign that warned: “No drinking.”
Local, state and federal agents were back on the streets throughout the day as part of the ongoing effort known as “Operation Hot Spots.”
At about 3:30 p.m., undercover agents moved in on Anthony Foster, 33, of Lewiston, who was suspected of carrying a gun as he walked up Pine Street.
Officers surrounded Foster and when they searched him, they found a loaded handgun, police said. He was taken to jail on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The arrest on Pine Street drew a crowd of nearly 100 people and led to some early confusion. Several people called 911 to report that one man was robbing another near the intersection of Pine and Bartlett streets. Police said onlookers may have been confused because the arrest was made by undercover agents.
Foster was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where he remained Thursday night.
His criminal record in the area is extensive and dates back to the 1990s. In February, he was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon. Previously, he was in and out of jail on a variety of charges, including disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and driving violations.
In 1998, Foster was arrested in a high-profile case in which he was accused of siccing his pit bull on a police officer near Kennedy Park. Foster was arrested in that incident on charges of aggravated assault and assault on a police officer.
Lewiston police and agents from the Maine Drug Enfordcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been maintaining a heavy presence in downtown Lewiston. The summertime effort was prompted by a spate of violence that included several reports of gunfire in the spring.
People who live in the downtown have been complaining about a variety of things, among them prostitution and public drinking.
On Thursday, police focused on both. Arrested for engaging in prostitution was Jessie Judd, 26, of Lewiston.
On Walnut Street, in the area of Poirier’s Market, which has been identified as a trouble zone, police arrested Roderick Holmes, 39, and charged him with drinking in public.
Police said Holmes was drinking alcohol beneath a sign that specifically warned against that behavior.
Lewiston police Chief Michael Bussiere said Operation Hot Spots will continue as summer winds down. His team on Thursday, he said, was able to zero in on suspects engaging in the kinds of activities police have been trying to combat.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Bussiere said.