It took some time, but Spokane County Sheriff’s Office investigators finally shut down an apparent long-running drug operation at an unlicensed daycare last week.
On Aug. 30, at about 9:15 a.m., the sheriff's Investigative Support Unit served a drug search warrant at 7820 E. Buckeye Road in Spokane Valley. The search warrant concluded a yearlong investigation that started with a school resource deputy's investigation at West Valley High School, said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, sheriff’s spokesman.
Deputy Ed Cashman, who is assigned to West Valley High School, made several arrests during the 2011-12 school year of students possessing marijuana. Several of the students told Cashman they had purchased the marijuana from 35-year-old Tina M. Jones, who lives at the East Buckeye address.
The Sheriff's Office Investigative Support Unit's yearlong investigation revealed Jones was selling marijuana out of her residence as well as running an unlicensed daycare.
The search warrant resulted in locating 58 actively growing marijuana plants as well as several children at the residence. Three of the children were being watched by Jones, who claimed she was watching them for friends. All three of the children's parents were contacted and picked up at the residence.
Jones rationale for selling the marijuana to the students was to keep them away from "worse" drugs, Chamberlin said. As far as 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.
On Friday, Chamberlin further clarified why it took nearly a year to arrest Jones.
Apparently, Cashman wasn’t told until May 22 that students were purchasing pot from Jones. After the information was forwarded to the ISU, a confidential informant was sent to buy marijuana from Jones. The informant knew nothing of the growing operation.
At a second purchase on July 16, Jones said she had the babysitting business to explain the five children present.
On Aug. 20, the informant made a third purchase – there were seven children present at this time, Chamberlin said.
The controlled purchases were made in order to establish probable cause for a search warrant, he added, which was served on Aug. 30. At that time, investigators were able to establish Jones was operating an unlicensed daycare and that there was marijuana being grown in the home.
Jones was booked into Spokane County Jail on three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and one count of manufacturing a controlled substance, marijuana.