Cocaine Dealer Describes High School Drug Counselor’s Role
Spokane drug kingpin James Larsen told a jury Tuesday that he bought vast quantities of cocaine from a high school drug counselor.
Larsen and the counselor already have confessed to their roles in a cocaine trafficking network, and are testifying during the trial of two other suspects.
Larsen, a 38-year-old businessman, testified that he got cocaine from John S. Drake, who worked as a drug counselor in Lincoln County and at Morning Star Boys Ranch.
Drake, 41, was arrested at his South Hill home in late September after finishing a day’s work as a counselor at Creston High School.
He immediately began cooperating with authorities, leading them to other cocaine dealers.
Drake was dealing cocaine in pound-quantities while he worked as a drug counselor, Larsen testified Tuesday.
Drake and Larsen both have cut deals with federal prosecutors and agreed to testify at the trial to avoid sentences of up to life in prison.
Both men must testify against Keith S. Young, 47, of Electric City, Wash., and Edelmire “Eddie” Tamiz, 38, of Pasco. They are on trial for federal drug conspiracy charges.
Young and Tamiz are accused of supplying Larsen with cocaine, often using Drake as a middleman.
Larsen likely faces eight years in prison for his role in the conspiracy that distributed hundreds of pounds of cocaine in the Inland Northwest.
Larsen was among two dozen defendants arrested last August in a sting called Operation Doughboy. He has been in jail since then, getting out only for interviews with investigators.
Drake was arrested a month later as he was cutting cocaine deals to fill the void created by the earlier arrests. He faces three to four years in prison when he’s sentenced in March.
In court, Larsen said he started using and selling cocaine in Spokane in 1982. By 1987, Larsen testified, he was selling kilograms of cocaine that he would get from his card-playing buddy, co-defendant Robin Mueller.
Larsen recalled being arrested by police in the Spokane Valley in 1990 as he was preparing to sell a relatively small amount of cocaine to Clarence “Cip” Paulsen III.
Larsen was convicted in state court of possession of cocaine, and sentenced to 30 days of home detention.
Confined to his home with a telephone monitoring device, Larsen testified, he continued to sell poundquantities of cocaine in February 1994.
Larsen said he sold cocaine to Richard Yamamoto and paid for his attorney when Yamamoto was arrested for selling drugs.
Yamamoto later became one of the first informants used by the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force and the FBI when the Doughboy investigation was begun.
Larsen, who owns a downtown newsstand, an East Trent lounge and a Hillyard car lot, described a lifestyle that commonly involved piles of cash and more cocaine deals than he can remember.
Police found $30,000 in his Spokane Valley home, and Larsen testified that was all drug money.
“How many kilos did you buy from John Drake?” defense attorney Rick Bechtolt asked Larsen.
“Between 13 and 14 kilos, but that’s a guess,” Larsen responded.
Earlier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Johnson asked Larsen if he knew where Drake was getting his cocaine supplies. Larsen said Drake told him it was coming from Young.