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Assault rifle, body armor found during drug bust

OLYMPIA - Acting on a tip, narcotics detectives arrested a registered sex offender and a 17-year-old at a West Dundee Street residence across from Capital High School where detectives seized three ounces of methamphetamine and more than two pounds of marijuana.

Detectives also seized seven firearms from the juvenile’s bedroom, including a loaded AK-47 assault rifle and a sawed-off shotgun.

Barney Steve Romero, 31, was arrested Monday on suspicion of unlawful possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Romero is registered as a Level 2 sex offender, Thurston County Det. Daryl Leischner said. In 1992, Romero pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree child molestation in Thurston County Superior Court, court papers state. At the time of the offense, Romero was 12 years old and his female victim was 5, Leischner said.

Romero was being held Tuesday at the Thurston County Jail on a no-bail hold on suspicion of violating his state Department of Corrections supervision, a jail official said.

The 17-year-old juvenile was ordered held at the Thurston County Juvenile Jail during a court hearing in juvenile court Tuesday with bail set at $500,000. The Olympian is not naming the 17-year-old because he is a juvenile and has not been charged with a crime.

The 17-year-old was ordered held on suspicion of five counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, two counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance while armed with a deadly weapon, one count of possession of a stolen firearm and one count of possession of a short-barrelled shotgun. It is illegal in the state of Washington to saw off the end of a shotgun.

During the court hearing, Thurston County Juvenile Court Senior Deputy Prosecutor Rick Peters said the office likely is going to file criminal charges against the 17-year-old in adult court. The juvenile turns 18 in March.

Peters said during the court hearing that detectives found a cell phone in the juvenile’s possession with saved phone numbers for “every major drug dealer in Thurston County.”

The juvenile has a criminal record that includes prior juvenile convictions for theft, residential burglary, vehicle prowling and possession of alcohol, Peters said.

Detectives seized the methamphetamine, one pound of marijuana and all of the firearms from inside the juvenile’s bedroom Monday. Detectives also found two military bulletproof vests in a closet inside the home, court papers state.

The juvenile’s mother, who apparently also resides at the home where the narcotics and guns were found, said she was unaware of the alleged illegal activity going on there, Peters said in court.

Detectives with the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force served the search warrant at the West Dundee Street residence Monday afternoon, said Task Force Supervisor Lt. Loreli Thompson.

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