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Police Arrest Two Suspects in EBT-for-Fentanyl Fraud Ring

Police seized drugs, a handgun, and EBT cards in Beacon Hill last week after an investigation in the Chinatown-International District led them to an EBT fraud ring. 

Late in the summer of 2022, SPD began an operation to address the sale of fentanyl and the trade of stolen merchandise in exchange for fentanyl in the Chinatown-International District. 

SPD detectives from the Major Crimes Task Force, Narcotics, Investigative Support, General Investigations Unit, plus Patrol and Community Response Group officers worked with federal partners from the US Department of Agriculture and Homeland Security Investigations throughout the operation. 

Early in their investigation, detectives learned of a man dealing narcotics out of an RV. On September 23rd, officers served a search warrant on the RV in the 3700 block of Southwest Marginal Place and arrested the occupant. Police booked the 63-year-old man into King County Jail for illegal possession of narcotics and illegal possession of a firearm, and seized the following evidence: 

  • $5,180 cash 
  • 11.7 grams clonazepam 
  • 1.6 grams oxycodone 
  • 20.6 grams methamphetamines 
  • 13.4 grams cocaine 
  • 18.9 grams crack cocaine 
  • 41.9 grams heroin 
  • 85.9 grams fentanyl pills 
  • Revolver 
  • Black powder pistol 

Detectives continued to investigate and learned multiple suspects in the CID were involved in a scheme to exploit victims’ access to EBT/food assistance. Suspects offered EBT recipients between .50 cents and .30 cents on the dollar for the balances on their EBT cards. In most cases, the suspects accompanied card holders into a store, instructed them what to buy, took custody of the groceries/merchandise after checking out, and then paid the card holder a fraction of the value of the purchased goods in cash. The suspects then often sold the goods on the street or brought the items to be used at a restaurant. 

Detectives identified 5 individuals that partake in the EBT scheme daily and will be requesting felony level charges for money laundering and trafficking in food stamps. 

Additionally, police identified and arrested two suspects who were exchanging fentanyl for EBT cards. On December 7th, officers served a search warrant at their residence in the 1500 block of South Bennett Street and recovered: 

  • $670 cash 
  • 134.3 grams fentanyl pills 
  • 27.4 grams methamphetamines 
  • 202.5 grams crack cocaine 
  • 14 EBT cards 
  • 9mm semi-auto handgun 

Officers booked the 56-year-old man and 51-year-old woman into the King County Jail for possession of narcotics and trafficking of food stamps.