INET seizes $2.08 million in illicit drugs; suspect makes bond
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients and is applied via a patch on the skin. However, it is also a strong narcotic and has been used for abuse. The substance is very dangerous according to Dr. Andrea Carter, chief medical officer at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake, and a small amount may result in overdose.
Courtesy Grant County Sheriff’s Office
Staff Writer | January 7, 2022 1:03 AM
Officers with the Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team, also known as INET, seized about $2.08 million in methamphetamine and fentanyl pills on Dec. 24.
“(Charges could expand) certainly, based on the amount of the product that was seized from him, that being 32 pounds of meth and 25,000 fentanyl pills. … That’s distribution-level quantities of drugs,” said Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kyle Foreman.
Rigoberto Tapia, 42, of Mattawa is facing a possible charge of possession of controlled substances with the intent to deliver, Foreman said. He was arrested after officers raided a home at 202 N. Boundary Ave. in Mattawa, about an hour’s drive southwest of Moses Lake. In addition to the methamphetamine and fentanyl pills, officers found Tapia in possession of $50,000 in cash. A decision on any additional charges will be made by the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office once the investigation is completed. The current charge is a Class A felony, Foreman said.
According to Washington State law, a Class A felony can result in a fine of up to $50,000 and up to life in prison, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the crimes involved.
Foreman said it was unknown whether Tapia had any gang affiliation, though that is under investigation.
Grant County Superior Court records indicate Tapia was out on bond as of Wednesday, having used A Plus Bail Bonds to post $100,000 bail. He has pleaded not guilty. Tapia’s pretrial hearing is set for Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. and a second hearing will be held March 21 at 9 a.m.
Foreman said INET has been successful over the last three years in removing drugs from Grant County. In 2018, the task force dealt with 83 narcotics cases, then 82 in 2019 and 66 in 2020, according to GCSO data. That includes more than 15,500 grams of methamphetamine and more than 5,700 grams of heroin. About 4,200 grams of cocaine were also seized by INET investigators over the last three years. More than half a million dollars in cash was either seized or forfeited over that same timeframe.
Foreman said this bust was one of the largest ever in Grant County.
In April of 2021, Grant County was designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. That designation as a HIDTA has been helpful to INET as they fight the drug trade in the region.
“There’s many, many counties across the United States (with that classification),” Foreman said. “But Grant County is one of several in Washington that are designated HIDTA. And what that does is it allows Grant County to come up with federal resources and federal assistance in order to make investigations or to make cases and try to decrease drug trafficking and distribution to the county.”
Foreman said anyone who suspects illicit drug activities or has further information on this (Tapia’s) case should contact the Grant County Sheriff’s Office to report a tip at 509-762-1160.