A Lummi couple is facing federal drug charges after an undercover investigation caught them selling heroin and methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Tanya Jefferson, 44, made her first appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle Friday, Aug. 1, facing charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Her husband, John Alex Jefferson Jr., 37, is still being sought by law enforcement.
The charges are the result of an undercover investigation by the Lummi Nation Police Department and the FBI. In the space of about a week in April 2013, a confidential informant working with law enforcement met with the Jeffersons five times at locations throughout Lummi Reservation. The informant bought more than 11 grams of heroin and about 5.5 grams of methamphetamine during that time, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Tanya Jefferson was arrested this June. A search of her purse revealed more than 24 grams of suspected heroin packaged in baggies, 1.5 grams of suspected methamphetamine in baggies and more than $450 cash. During an interview with investigators, she admitted that she and her husband had been selling methamphetamine and heroin for several years, according to court documents.
Tanya Jefferson has prior convictions for possessing, selling or delivering drug paraphernalia, manufacturing an illegal substance and delivering an illegal substance. John Jefferson also has multiple drug possession convictions.
"Heroin abuse is a growing problem throughout Western Washington, with an alarming increase in overdose deaths," U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a news release about the charges.
Lummi Nation officials have made investigating drug trafficking and sales a top priority, Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew II said in a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Medical professionals at the Lummi Nation have also made significant strides to limit access to prescription drugs by patients seeking prescription medications for illicit use," Ballew said. "The Nation has seen a massive shift to cheap and prevalent heroin as the availability of prescription narcotics diminishes."