A suspected drug dealer made a hasty exit and attempted to flush three ounces of hashish down a toilet Tuesday after he realized a potential customer was an undercover narcotics detective, court papers state.
Detectives Jason Casebolt and Matt Renschler with the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force gave chase, following the armed man into a restroom inside Safeway on Martin Way at Sleater-Kinney Road.
Casebolt and Renschler said they burst into the restroom after hearing the toilet flush repeatedly and arrested the suspect. According to court papers:
As the detectives struggled to place Vinson White, 47, in custody, they found he had a loaded 9mm handgun in a holster around his waist. He also had a large amount of cash. White was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance while armed with a deadly weapon.
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Ronald Taylor, 57, who was waiting in the parking lot near a white Buick during the drug buy, also was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.
As of Thursday afternoon, White had posted $10,000 bail. Taylor was being held at the Thurston County Jail with bail set at $25,000.
Both men are from Portland and told police they were on their way to Seattle to purchase a car. Both have extensive criminal histories.
White figured out that Casebolt was an undercover detective as they negotiated a deal for the hashish at a picnic table outside the store.
White, admiring Casebolt’s necklace, asked to see it. The object hanging from the “necklace,” and con- cealed under Casebolt’s shirt, was a law enforcement badge .
Casebolt pulled the badge out . White then “bolted” for the front door of the store , and the chase was on.
Casebolt said Thursday that he normally would not wear his badge while undercover.
However, he said he had expected to be conducting surveillance only Tuesday. The operation changed when Casebolt learned White was trying to sell hashish .
White was not the initial target Tuesday, Casebolt said.
He said he improvised as he talked with White and haggled over a price during the unplanned drug buy. White was “very suspicious” from the start, Casebolt said.
“He kept asking if I was a cop,” Casebolt said, adding that White also asked what he did for a living and why he wasn’t at work .
At one point, White “just stopped talking,” then suddenly asked Casebolt “what kind of necklace I have on there.”
Casebolt said he revealed the badge .
Casebolt said White said, “‘Oh, that’s pretty.’ Then he started screaming and took off as fast as he could.”
Subsequent investigation revealed that Taylor was involved with White in selling drugs, Casebolt said. In court records, Taylor denied knowing what was going on.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org