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Vashon businessman arrested after drug bust
A special team of law enforcement officers recovered a semi-automatic pistol, a shotgun and more than three ounces of cocaine from a Vashon businessman last Wednesday.
The man, 55, was arrested and booked into the Seattle Correctional Facility at 7 p.m. Oct. 29, but was released 26 hours later because charges had not yet been filed against him. It is The Beachcomber’s policy not to name individuals who have not yet been charged with a crime.
The businessman is under investigation for possession of narcotics with the intent to deliver. But “in drug cases, charges usually aren’t filed until the drugs are tested by the Washington State Patrol crime lab,” said Sgt. John Urquhart, spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office.
The search of the man, his home south of Burton and Carpet Savers Wholesale business in Vashon town were conducted after the King County Sheriff’s Office obtained narcotics search warrants, said Sgt. Jesse Babauta, one of eight officers who carried out the search.
A canine unit was also on location to help in the search, which was part of an “ongoing investigation into the business owner,” Babauta said.
King County Sheriff’s Deputy Mel Dickson, who patrols Vashon, said it was unusual for a narcotics search to be conducted at an Island home or business.
“It doesn’t happen over here on a regular basis,” he said.
In general, narcotics search warrants are carried out at residences, he added — businesses are “rarely ever” searched for narcotics.
“No matter where you are,” Dickson said, “that’s just not something that happens on a a regular basis.”
Firearms and contraband were found on the suspect and at his home and business, according to court documents.
Several small packets of “cocaine, packaged for sale” were found on the man himself.
Some cocaine and the two weapons — both apparently in working order — were recovered from the man’s home.
Three ounces of cocaine were recovered from his carpet business on Vashon Highway just south of Pandora’s Box, the documents note. All the suspected narcotics field-tested positive for cocaine.
Police officers estimated the street value of the narcotics at $2,000.
The business owner, reached on his cell phone Monday, denied having cocaine in his possession and said if charges are filed against him, he will fight them. He added that the guns police officers could have found in his home were hunting rifles and expressed confusion over the details of his arrest.
“I couldn’t get any information out of them (police officials),” he said.
Priscilla Schleigh Kimmel and Jim Kimmel were in Giraffe, just south of Carpet Savers Wholesale, when police officers arrived to search the establishment.
The officers marched toward the business, two abreast and all in black, Kimmel said.
“They had a battering ram to bust the door down,” Kimmel said, “and machine guns.”
Carpet Savers Wholesale has been in business for more than 10 years and rents space in the same building as Vashon Island Travel, at 17331 Vashon Hwy S.W.
Vashon Island Travel owner Ray Konrad used Carpet Savers when installing carpet in his business and home, he said.
“He doesn’t keep regular business hours,” Konrad said of the business owner. “He contracts with people that do installation, and he sells carpet. Basically, he’s putting people together to do these jobs, and he supplies the carpet, and everybody’s happy.”
Travel consultant Pam Wojcik said she’d always thought of the carpet business owner as a good neighbor.
“He’s polite to me and always friendly,” she said.
But neighbors painted a different picture of the Islander.
“I live farther up the hill,” said Karrie Hernandez. “Luckily I didn’t live right near him. I knew about him and what he did from the minute we moved in here.”
She said there sometimes was a high volume of vehicle traffic to and from the man’s home. Still, Wednesday’s raid came as a surprise to her, she said.
“I don’t think any of us knew that was going to go down, not that I’m not totally grateful for that, because I am,” Hernandez said.
Another neighbor, Christina DuBois, said she’d never really gotten to know her neighbor, who was quiet.
“He always kept to himself, and for good reason, I guess,” she said.