Multi-state drug bust leads to multiple arrests in Whatcom

Twelve people were arrested between Monday and Tuesday in a multi-agency, multi-state drug bust that netted 50,000 fentanyl pills; 34 firearms; 7 kilos of fentanyl powder; methamphetamine; cocaine; a vehicle; and $58,000 in cash. An improvised explosive device was also seized during a traffic stop related to the case.

A joint drug investigation by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration resulted in the bust of a ring that police say trafficked fentanyl powder and other drugs primarily in the county of Whatcom, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office Wednesday.

Eleven of the defendants were arrested in Washington state, nine in Whatcom County. A twelfth defendant was arrested in Fresno, California.

The nine Whatcom County defendants were arrested on suspicion of state drug charges and include: Loren Walker, 54, of Bellingham; William Fife, 67, of Bellingham; Brian Corbett, 50, of Bellingham; Steven Binschus, 58, of Bellingham; Christina Hein, 44, of Bellingham; Yvette Bailey, 54, of Ferndale; Mary Bohannan, 58, of Bellingham; Amanda Lawrence, 44, of Blaine; and Gregory Hite, 62, of Bellingham.

Defendants Wayne Lankhaar and Yolanda Reyes face federal charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, according to federal court documents, and one defendant was arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm.

The bust followed the work of an undercover law enforcement agent, who bought more than 40 grams of fentanyl-laced powder from a man who identified himself as “Paco” during an exchange in June, according to federal court documents.

The drug bust was a collaborative effort between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol, the Bellingham Police Department, the Mount Vernon Police Department, the of Ferndale, the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit, the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Homeland Security. Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Whatcom County Health Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“This investigation, the resulting arrests and seizure of large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and firearms demonstrate the large-scale availability of these deadly drugs in our community; the level of organization involved in the criminal enterprises involved and the potential for violence,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a statement Wednesday.

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