Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Join in Crackdown On Prescription Drug Abuse in Southwest Washington
AUG 8 -- Seven defendants have been indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in connection with illegal drug dealing in prescription narcotics. The indictments are part of a coordinated law enforcement effort to address a growing problem of prescription drug abuse in Southwest Washington. Numerous additional individuals have been charged by State authorities. Cowlitz County has seen increasing numbers of overdoses and deaths from prescription narcotics.
“In the last two and a half years, 40 people have died in Cowlitz County from overdoses of prescription drugs – that is more than double the number of deaths from illegal street drugs,” said United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan. “Some of the defendants indicted today were dealing drugs near schools, some were forging prescriptions or selling medications from their own prescriptions.”
During the course of this eight month investigation, the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force members used undercover agents, officers and informants to purchase the narcotics. Many of the transactions were recorded on video and audio. Investigators are still working to determine where members of this network obtained all their narcotics. The drugs included oxycodone, hydrocodone, dilaudid, and methadone, which are highly addictive prescription narcotics with high abuse potential.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 6 million Americans are currently abusing controlled substance prescription drugs – that is more than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined. Researchers at the Center for Disease Control report that opiate prescription pain killers cause more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin.
"The misuse and abuse of pharmaceutical controlled substances is a significant issue in our nation, and recent statistics suggest that the misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana nationally. The State of Washington is no exception to this abuse and, unfortunately, there are individuals who are willing to break the law to abuse and/or illegally distribute these pharmaceutical drugs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Arnold R. Moorin.
JASON M. THOMAS, 36, of Longview, Washington is charged with three counts of distributing lorazepam (Ativan). RICHARD L. BOPP, 27, of Longview, Washington, is charged with three counts: Distribution of Oxycodone; Distribution of Oxycodone and Hydromorphone (Dilaudid); and Possession of Oxycodone and Hydromorphone with Intent to Distribute. DANIEL J. FISHER, 20, of Kelso, Washington is charged with Distribution of Hydrocodone, Distribution of Lorazepam, and Distribution of MDMA. LAURA T. MACALALAD, 31, of Kelso, Washington, is charged with Distribution of Oxycodone, Use of Telephone to Facilitate Drug Crime, and Distribution of Oxycodone. JULIE A. SCHOONOVER, 36, of Castle Rock, Washington, is charged with two counts of Distribution of Methadone, and two counts of Use of Telephone to Facilitate Drug Crime. BO J. STOREDAHL, 21, of Kelso, Washington is charged with three counts of Use of Telephone to Facilitate Drug Crime, and two counts of Distribution of Oxycodone. BARON I. LOHNER, 22, of Kelso, Washington is charged with two counts of Distributing Methadone and one count of Use of a Telephone to Facilitate a Drug Crime.
The defendants arrested on federal indictments are being detained at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, Washington pending their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
The charges relating to the distribution of various drugs are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Use of a Telephone to Facilitate a Drug Crime is punishable by up to four years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
The charges contained in the indictments are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The cases were investigated by the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Today’s arrests involved officers and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office, the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office, the Longview Police Department, the Kelso Police Department, the Castle Rock Police Department, the Washington State Patrol, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Washington State Department of Corrections.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.