SecondPoint Roberts teenager busted on school bus

Published on Thu, Mar 11, 2004 by eg Olson

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Second Point Roberts teenager busted on school bus

By Meg Olson

Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies and immigration and customs enforcement special agents arrested a 16-year-old boy on the Point Roberts school bus Monday morning, less than a week after one of his classmates was formally charged with smuggling marijuana on the bus.

On March 3, a 16-year old girl was formally arraigned on a felony charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver following her February 20 arrest with eight pounds of marijuana on the Point Roberts bus at the Peace Arch port of entry. Customs and Border protection information officer Mike Milne said agents arrested the 16-year-old boy as part of the ongoing investigation into drug smuggling on the bus, but no drugs were seized. He is being held on $10,000 bail and will be charged March 17 with conspiracy to deliver marijuana.
Monday evening Blaine police chief Mike Haslip told Blaine city council that the investigation would continue but law enforcement was also focusing on educating parents and students about how serious drug smuggling is, and how pervasive it is in border communities. “Canada grows six million pounds of marijuana a year and they smoke less than a third,” he said at the March 8 city council meeting. “The rest comes across the border. Unfortunately kids stand to make a significant amount of money for something they see as low risk.” Haslip said police would continue to work with the school to stop drugs coming into the community, but that most of the drugs moved through, not into, Blaine. “We’re merely a funnel in that regard,” he said. “Blaine does not have a large problem but it has a problem. Every high school has a drug problem.”

Haslip described a community meeting in Point Roberts as “productive and energetic.” At the March 4 meeting county sheriff Bill Elfo, prosecutor Tom Verge and school superintendent Mary Lynne Derrington met with community members to address concerns that local teens were being preyed upon by drug smugglers and used as couriers. “Is there more to this? Be assured our investigation is ongoing,” Elfo said. “If there are adults putting a 16-year-old up to this we’re going to find them, arrest them and hold them accountable.”
Verge said the February 20 arrest was the fourth juvenile offender arrested for smuggling since October 2003, the recent arrest bringing the total to five. The first three teens were arrested bringing drugs across the border from Abbotsford. Verge cautioned parents and teens not to take pot smuggling lightly. “People will do very bad things to other people for that kind of money,” he said. “It’s not an innocent crime and we take it very seriously.”

Several parents suggested the community needed to stop looking at law enforcement to stop the problem and work on developing some positive programs for young people on the Point. “We need to be present for these teens,” said local mom Ann Christi.

In other drug arrests, federal and local law enforcement agencies are being very cautious about releasing information about allegations drug and bomb making materials were found in Blaine.

Arrests in the Haggen parking lot in Ferndale led law enforcement to at least one Blaine house where they allegedly found supplies for making drugs and bombs.

Corey Ellis, 22, of Custer and Vaughn Hall, 35, whose last known address according to Ferndale police was in Sedro Wooley, were pulled over for a broken tail light. Ellis was taken into custody for a suspended license and an outstanding warrant while Hall, a convicted felon, was arrested for possessing a firearm when a rifle allegedly belonging to him was found in the vehicle. In searching the trunk officers found drug paraphernalia, white powder believed to be methamphetamine and three pipe bombs. The store was evacuated until the Bellingham police bomb squad and federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) cleared the scene.

Later in the day the investigation had three search warrants, one in Bellingham and two in the Blaine area. Bellingham police searched a house on East North Street and found an alleged methamphetamine lab. The next day specialists arrived to clean up the lab and found a small explosive device, explosive material, blasting caps, detonation cords and various chemicals.

Blaine police assisted the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force NRDTF in searching a house in the 300 block of Cherry Street but would not say what was found. “There were no arrests. Items were collected as evidence,” said NRDTF representative Scott Snider. He said a search was also made of a house in the 8800 block of Blaine Road, outside Blaine city limits.

Inquiries to the ATF were referred to the U.S Attorney’s office in Seattle by Matt Horace who said it was “a very sensitive ongoing investigation. We will be very limited in what we say.”

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