A man is facing felony charges in Lewis County Superior Court after members of the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET), Thurston County Narcotics Task Force (TNT) and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found between 4,700 and 5,000 suspected fentanyl pills in his car outside a hotel in Chehalis on Sept. 20.
In total, 28 grams of suspected meth, 26 grams of suspected heroin, 27 grams of suspected fentanyl powder, dozens of Xanax pills, $2,800 in cash, hundreds of baggies and other drug paraphernalia items were recovered during a search of the suspect’s vehicle.
The drugs are worth “approximately $20,000 in street value, if not more,” Deputy Prosecutor Joe Bassetti said during a preliminary hearing for the suspect, identified as Waylan R. Graves, 52, in Lewis County Superior Court on Sept. 21, where bail was set at $1 million.
Lewis County Superior Court documents identify Graves as an Olympia resident while a JNET news release stated he is from Oakville.
JNET, TNT and the DEA developed probable cause to arrest Graves after conducting surveillance on him between July 1 and Sept. 20, according to court documents.
The surveillance began after Graves posted $30,000 bail on June 5 and was released from the Thurston County Jail, where he was in custody for drug trafficking charges.
In that case, filed in Thurston County Superior Court on June 2, Graves is accused of having “thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, a quarter pound of methamphetamine and three firearms” in his vehicle, according to court documents.
After he was released, “multiple drug task forces,” including JNET, “learned Mr. Graves was continuing to sell large amounts of fentanyl-laced pills in multiple counties in Washington,” according to court documents.
Between July 1 and Sept. 20, Graves allegedly conducted “what appeared to be drug transactions” in Thurston and Lewis counties and “sold hundreds of fentanyl-laced pills to a credible and reliable source,” according to court documents.
JNET noted some of those “apparent drug deals” occurred in Centralia and Chehalis.
Members of JNET, TNT and the DEA reportedly saw Graves arrive at a hotel in Chehalis on Wednesday, Sept. 20, and arrested him as he exited his vehicle and walked toward the front of the hotel.
“The detectives were aware that Graves had previously met with a known drug trafficker to replenish his supply and sought to arrest him on probable cause for a previous delivery of controlled substances,” according to court documents.
A search of Graves during the arrest reportedly yielded “a few hundred dollars in cash and a calibration weight used to check scale accuracy.” When questioned, Graves allegedly “admitted to having ‘a lot of personal use’ drugs in the car,” according to court documents.
JNET’s patrol service dog, Pip, reportedly alerted to the presence of controlled substances inside Graves’s vehicle, a 2005 Honda Accord.
Detectives soon obtained a search warrant for Graves’ vehicle and found large quantities of drugs and drug paraphernalia within.
Graves was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 11:40 p.m. on Sept. 20 and has since been charged with three counts of violation of the uniform controlled substances act with intent to deliver. The charge is a class C felony carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
“The state has multiple concerns in this case,” Bassetti said during Graves’ preliminary hearing on Thursday, citing several active warrants and drug-related convictions on Graves’ record, as well as the active Thurston County Superior Court case.
“I think all of those (are) community safety risks,” Bassetti said Thursday, Sept. 21.
While defense attorney Rachael Tiller asked Judge James Lawler to set bail no higher than $250,000 due to Graves’ financial status, Lawler ruled Graves is a community safety risk and granted Bassetti’s bail request.
Arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 28.
“This investigation has revealed many local co-conspirators and accomplices,” JNET said in a news release on Friday, adding, “JNET anticipates more arrests in the near future.”
The investigation is ongoing and no other information is being released at this time, JNET said. JNET encourages anyone with information pertaining to the investigation to call the Centralia Police Department at 360-330-7680 or Lewis County Communications at 360-740-1105.
“The poisonous effects of fentanyl continue to have deadly impact on our communities. (JNET) is committed to identifying and arresting those who facilitate the sale and distribution of poisonous drugs in our community,” JNET said in a news release.
Local resources for substance abuse disorders and recovery can be found through the Recovery Navigator Program at https://www.grbhaso.org/rnp or by calling the crisis line ar 800-803-8833.
Information about the dangers of fentanyl can be found at https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl.