City, county, tribal and federal law enforcement took part in a drug bust in Oak Harbor Wednesday that resulted in the seizure of 50 pounds of methamphetamine and the arrest of two men, according to a press release from Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker.
The federal task force behind the high-level narcotics trafficking investigation is known as BEST, which is short for Border Enforcement Security Task Force. It is comprised of law enforcement from Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection Air Marine Operations, Border Patrol, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
The probable cause statement filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle states that, beginning in late September, agents in Arizona investigated smugglers who were allegedly transporting meth from Mexico to Western Washington.
On Oct. 23, special agents from BEST conducted an undercover buy of meth in the Rite Aid Pharmacy parking lot in Oak Harbor; the team was assisted by the Oak Harbor police and the Island County Sheriff’s Office.
One suspect, later identified as Taylor Addington, was observed walking out of the Acorn Motor Inn with a large black suitcase, which he placed in the trunk of a rental car, court documents state. A man later identified as Brandon Melito got into the passenger seat, the report states.
An undercover agent met with the men and purchased the meth, the report indicates. The meth weighed 50 pounds and was worth about $150,000, the press release states.
Addington and Melito were arrested without incident and brought to the Oak Harbor police station for interviews. Addington allegedly admitted to selling the meth to the agent and claimed he was a “middle man” in the smuggling operation; he said he was supposed to be paid $2,000, the court document states.
The two suspects have no known ties to Whidbey Island, Dresker said. Oak Harbor was just a “pass-through” location and the drugs were meant for an unknown larger population area off-island, he added.
A complaint was filed in federal court against both men Oct. 24. They are accused of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.