By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A Chehalis business owner has pleaded not guilty to local charges related to using an alias following a search by local, state and federal agencies of his warehouse, his home and several vehicles.
A sheriff’s detective began looking into Champion Greens located on Northwest West Street in Chehalis based on information that arose pursuant to an investigation by multiple agencies into organized criminal activity in Washington state, according to court documents.
Both the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office said the case involved an ongoing investigation, which they have not commented on.
Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead declined to say what type of organized crime was being looked into or what law enforcement agencies were doing the looking.
Elvis A. Matias-Lopez, 34, of Chehalis, is charged in Lewis County Superior Court with three class C felonies and is free on a $10,000 unsecured signature bond.
Halstead said he believes Matias-Lopez is Guatemalan.
The current charges relate to Matias-Lopez allegedly registering to vote, possessing two guns without the required alien firearm license and using the name Elvis A. Matias-Lopez for over 10 years, according to court documents.
Matias-Lopez pleaded not guilty on Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court to first-degree criminal impersonation, false declaration as to qualifications as a voter and alien in possession of a firearm without an alien firearm license.
He hired Centralia lawyer Don Blair after his April 20 arrest.
Charging documents in the case don’t reveal the nature of the organized crime being investigated, they only state a Lewis County sheriff’s detective became aware of Champion Greens because of that investigation, back in September 2014.
Champion Greens is a forest products foraging business consisting of a large cinder block structure, with multiple loading bays and “ample” storage area on Northwest West Street in Chehalis, according to the documents.
Law enforcement decided to conduct surveillance which continued regularly until last October on Matias-Lopez, his business co-owner, Champion Greens and his residence, according to court documents.
According to court documents, the sheriff’s office found Matias-Lopez was illegally in the country and eligible for deportation.
Another deputy learned from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Oregon that Matias-Lopez had previously informed them he’d legally changed his name in the Guatemalan court system, but in February, inquiries showed no evidence of Jose Matias-Lucas changing his name, according to court documents.
Search warrants were secured on April 19 and the following day, served with the assistance of local, state and federal agencies.
Items were seized which included but not were limited to documents showing Matias-Lopez’s “dominance and control” of the various structures and vehicles, receipts, bank drafts, inspection forms, a voter registration card, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Ruger LCP and ammunition, according to the court documents.
Prosecutor Halstead, who is handling the case in Lewis County Superior Court, said late last week he “cant’ answer that” as to whether any indications of organized criminal activity were found during the searches.
A phone call seeking comment from Matias-Lopez’s attorney was not returned.
The three alleged violations of state law each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. His trial is scheduled for the week of July 11.