Deputies uncover ‘theft-for-drugs’ ring, arrest eight in continuing investigation

Sheriff’s Dept. recovers more than $40,000 in equipment, firearms, drugs

A Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office investigation into a September stolen property report has led to the arrest of eight area suspects “involved with the sale and trade of stolen property for the purposes of acquiring illegal drugs,” according to Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate.

It began with the theft of more than $40,000 in equipment Sept. 23 and culminated with the arrest of two Montesano residents Wednesday afternoon, as well as the discovery of suspected illegal drugs and firearms and other stolen property at the suspects’ home.

A 34-year old man and his 27-year old girlfriend were arrested at their Tornow Drive home after officers executed a search warrant and found a John Deere Gator that was among the items reported stolen from a Montesano home on Minkler Road in late September. Officers also found 13 firearms, suspected illegal drugs and about $750 in cash, along with numerous items believed to have been stolen, including a Stihl Line cut-off saw taken from the City of Westport Water Department earlier this year. As part of the investigation, officers executed an earlier search warrant on Dekay Road in Hoquiam. There they discovered a Kubota backhoe/excavator, John Deere tract and Pace trailer, as well as several tools and household items that had been reported stolen from the Minkler Road address. Further interviews and investigation led to Wednesday’s arrests for trafficking stolen property, possession of stolen property and possession with intent to deliver. The two were also convicted felons and not allowed to possess firearms.

The investigation revealed a theft ring involving a half dozen people from Aberdeen and Hoquiam ranging in age from 26 to 48. Those suspects were arrested and face charges ranging from trafficking in stolen property to theft and possession of stolen property.

“Not all individuals were involved with the actual theft,” said Shumate. “However numerous subjects were involved with the sale and trade of stolen property for the purposes of acquiring illegal drugs. Deputies and detectives are continuing to work on ties to other crimes.”