August 31, 2012 in City

Sheriff’s Office explains length of pot probe

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Following citizens’ questions about the amount of time it took detectives to arrest a woman charged with selling marijuana to high school students, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office released more information today about how the investigation progressed.

Detectives on Thursday raided a home at 7820 E. Buckeye Ave. and arrested 35-year-old Tina M. Jones on multiple drug charges. They found 58 marijuana plants and learned Jones had been operating an unlicensed daycare at that address.

Spokane County Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Craig Chamberlin said Thursday that the case began through the work of Deputy Ed Cashman, who is the school resource officer at West Valley High School. Chamberlin said students told Cashman that they were buying marijuana from Jones.

“There has been questions from citizens, with respect to this investigation, why it took nearly a year to arrest Tina M. Jones for running an unlicensed daycare and growing marijuana inside the residence,” Chamberlin said today in a news release.

He explained that although Cashman began making arrests for marijuana possession about a year ago, it wasn’t until May that a student specifically identified Jones as the source.

That information was forwarded to drug detectives, who used a confidential informant to buy marijuana from Jones in June. But investigators still had no information about a suspected grow operation or an unlicensed daycare.

A second purchase by a confidential informant was made on July 16 and at that time the informant reported seeing five children in the home. “The informant also told investigators Jones said she had a babysitting business.”

Then two weeks ago, the informant made a third marijuana purchase from Jones and told investigators she had seven children in the home.

That information was used to obtain a search warrant that was executed Thursday.

A case worker from Washington’s Child Protective Services told drug detectives that the state Department of Social and Health Services had recently started an investigation into allegations that Jones was operating an unlicensed daycare out of her residence.

The grow operation wasn’t discovered until the raid, Chamberlin said.

As of today, detectives are recommending charges of three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession with intent to deliver and one count of manufacturing a controlled substance, he said.

On Thursday, Chamberlin said Jones’ rationale for selling marijuana to students “was to keep them away from ‘worse drugs,’” he said. “As for the marijuana grow, Jones said she was under the assumption marijuana was going to be legalized in the near future so she was getting a head start for her personal usage.”

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