A search warrant at the Green Hill Juvenile Detention Facility in Chehalis uncovered stashes of drugs and weapons on Thursday, according to police.
The Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team raided the detention center as part of an ongoing investigation into drug dealing and employee misconduct within the facility.
Two years earlier, a staff member had been charged with taking bribes in exchange for smuggling drugs into the building.
The investigation follows an incident that happened in November of last year when a resident overdosed in his cell. The boy was taken to St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia where doctors discovered he had used fentanyl. The boy survived and the ensuing investigation led to the arrest of four student inmates.
A letter was then sent to the Office of Governor Jay Inslee requesting that the Attorney General conduct an investigation into the facility following the reports of drug dealing with the addition of several personnel concerns.
“During 2022, three significant incidents connected to the Green Hill School have had negative impacts on communities in Washington.” wrote Chehalis police in their letter to Inslee. “These three incidents appear systemic and directly related to the operating practices and procedures of the Juvenile Justice Program. Even though we only cite three incidents, we believe many other failures are regularly occurring in this and other Juvenile Justice facilities.”
The request was denied on the grounds that the state had already implemented changes to the facility’s security practices. These additions include the use of full body and bag scanners along with new employee and supervisor training.
“The Governor’s Office is declining to refer this matter to the Attorney General’s Office for further investigation. We encourage you to connect with the Department of Youth of Family Services to discuss any remaining concerns, explore potential partnership opportunities, and learn more about how the agency is transforming its service delivery in response to an older population,” wrote Deputy General Taylor K. Wonhoff.
The investigation then continued through collaboration with DCYF, Chehalis Police, and other local agencies.
However, In August of this year, police heard that not only were drug overdoses continuing, but they were being handled without involving law enforcement. Detectives also learned that Child Protective Services got a tip that a staff member was providing a student inmate with drugs, said the Chehalis Police Department.
On Aug. 17 after speaking to a witness, a detective learned that staff members had taken suspected fentanyl from multiple student inmates. When detectives reached out asking for the drugs, the Green Hill administrator briefly agreed but, then failed to comply with police direction.
13 days later on Aug. 31, the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team raided the facility with Chief Denham of the Centralia Police Department and Deputy Chief McKnight of the Chehalis Police Department. The search uncovered lockers where staff had allegedly stored contraband found in the facility dating back to 2017.
Among the contraband police found, improvised knives, cell phones, vape pens, and handwritten documents arranging illegal drug transactions. Several substances were also uncovered including “green leafy substances” believed to be marijuana, a “crystal substance” believed to be methamphetamine, and substances believed to be fentanyl.
The charges filed after the search are as follows:
Possession of narcotic drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, cannabis, other intoxicant, cell phone, or other form of electronic telecommunications devices by prisoners.
Possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Introducing contraband in the second degree.
Chehalis police said the investigation is still ongoing. They ask that you contact Detective Sergeant Tracy Murphy with any additional information.