Updated at 12:53 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
Centralia police made three more arrests yesterday after moving aggressively up the food chain to combat heroin overdoses and deaths in the community.
Officers raided a home about 9 a.m. on the 1000 block of Yakima Street and took two men and their mother into custody, but only found small amounts of a variety of suspected narcotics, according to the Centralia Police Department.
“Our primary suspect was in the bathroom flushing the toilet,” Centralia Anti-Crime Team Sgt. Jim Shannon said.
Among the drugs seized – found mostly in the shower area – were suspected heroin, Oxycodone, methamphetamine, hash oil and a prescription drug called Tramadol, Shannon said. About $460 cash was confiscated.
Sebastian Haller, 36, and his brother Arthur Haller, 32, were arrested on charges involving the distribution of meth and heroin to Centralia residents, according to police.
Fifty-nine-year-old Kathy Challender was arrested for maintaining a building for drug purposes, an offense she has been convicted of in the past, according to Shannon.
Police have served several warrants for felony narcotics at the same address over the past decade; the city is reviewing the case to determine if the property might be subject to seizure and forfeiture as a drug nuisance, according to police.
The search warrant served yesterday resulted from undercover buys, Shannon said.
The action is part of an undertaking that began in March targeting street-level and mid-level heroin suppliers because of the increase in the number of heroin and opiate related deaths over the past year in Lewis and southern Thurston counties, according to police.
Centralia police detectives are currently investigating at least two deaths that have been caused by heroin, Shannon said.
“There’s different types of heroin out there,” he said. “There’s tar and there’s powder, which seems to be more potent and is causing deaths.
“Aberdeen has a huge problem with it.”
What police care about is saving lives, Shannon said.
The most important thing Shannon wants members of the public to know today, is if a person is with someone who overdoses, they should get help immediately.
“I don’t want anyone to be afraid to call 911 because they think they’re gonna get busted,” he said. “That’s someone’s son, someone’s daughter. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know that person was addicted to opiates.”
Shannon referenced a recent case in which a boyfriend and a girlfriend were partying and he overdosed and she called 911.
“We got Riverside Fire Authority and they were able to administer a substance that counteracts it and he woke up,” Shannon said.
Officers didn’t arrest anyone, they just documented the incident and made sure there were no more drugs present, he said.
He himself has had to help save a life.
“It’s no fun doing CPR on somebody and waiting for aid to come and give them Narcan,” he said. “I mean, these people are dead. And AMR and Riverside brings them back.”
A lot of times, such an event is is a huge wakeup call prompting the person to get the help they need, he said.
It’s much worse for a witness of an overdose event if the subject dies and they didn’t call 911, Shannon said. Centralia police have successfully prosecuted controlled substance homicide in the past, he said.
Since mid-March, Shannon’s team has made 11 arrests for delivery. A small number more are expected out of the current investigation, he said.
Shannon said he wants to get the word out about the use and the arrests for drug dealing because it’s time now for others besides police to work on the problem.
“The police department is trying as hard as we can to do something about it,” he said. “The community also needs to think about what to do as well.”
Arrests of street level suppliers began in April.
On April 14, aid and police responded to to a residence on the 300 block of North Diamond Street and saved the life of a 26-year-old woman. The Anti-Crime Team investigated and arrested Christopher C. Lee, 25, of Rochester, for delivery of heroin as well as possession of methamphetamine.
While investigating further, the team arrested four more Centralia residents. They are Tyler Geist, 28; Sarah McCutcheon, 34; Jarrin Smalley, 21; and Brittany Cary, 25, according to the Centralia Police Department.
With information gained, the team began going after mid-level sources of heroin. Throughout, several search warrants have been served in Centralia and in south Thurston County.
On April 17, the team was led to the 17100 block of Sargent Road in Grand Mound, where they seized more than one quarter pound of heroin and about an ounce of methamphetamine, according to police.
Three individuals were arrested; they are Andrew T Field, 29; Alaina Normand, 24; and Terry Nelson-Rone, 44, according to police.
Field was under the supervision of the Washington State Department of Corrections and was sent directly back to prison in Shelton to serve time revoked for the new offenses, according to Shannon.
Then yesterday, the team, detectives and other Centralia officers went knocking on the door at Yakima Street, where they arrested the three.
Sebastian Haller was found guilty earlier this year for unrelated heroin charges and was out of custody awaiting sentencing, Shannon said.
If charged, the trio will appear before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court this afternoon.