When Granite Falls Police Chief Tony Domish came to town four years ago the buying and selling of illegal drugs was a stigma the small bedroom town of Granite Falls held.
Domish has been working tirelessly to take drugs off the streets and with another major drug bust on Friday, April 16, the town is losing their negative image.
This is the second major drug bust in Granite Falls in the last seven months, the first took place on Sept. 1, 2009.
The Granite Falls Police along with the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force has been working on the investigation.
“This has been a two year investigation,” Granite Falls Police Chief Tony Domish said. “We were purchasing controlled substances using undercover officers and confidential informants.”
Seven people were arrested including past Granite Falls mayor Floyd “Butch” DeRosia who held the mayoral seat for two years until he resigned in 2003. DeRosia was placed in the Snohomish County Jail and released on a $20,000 bond the next day. Allegedly, DeRosia sold marijuana to an undercover police officer.
Police received search warrants on four homes and at least one vehicle. Methamphetamines, prescription drugs and marijuana were found along with two firearms, which were found inside the vehicle.
“So far to date 10 people have been arrested and we anticipate many more arrests,” Domish said. “It was time to arrest people.”
A Lake Stevens man was also arrested, accused of selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant.
Officers have put a lot of time and effort into making these arrests possible.
“They (the officers) have done an outstanding job,” Domish said. “The amount of manpower hours it took to put something like this together was very labor intensive. Not only were these officers working their regular patrol shifts they were assisting in this investigation.”
Domish wants to make sure that Granite Falls is not going to be continually labeled as a place to buy and sell drugs.
“I want to make sure that we don’t have anymore of this problem than any other city . We have chosen to make sure we have a community that is drug free as best we can,” he said. “We identified some illegal activity and took care of it.”
A week later, on Friday, April 23, Chief Domish was placed on administrative leave by Granite Falls Mayor Haroon Saleem after Domish allegedly contacted the press before making some of the arrests.
“I am absolutely 100 percent for getting rid of the illicit drugs and drug dealers in the community,” Saleem said. “My issue is that we did not need that kind of media attention especially looking at the past 10 or 11 years now with the article in Rolling Stone magazine and Oprah.”
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department is investigating Domish and the police department for other reasons also.
“In Chapter 7.2.2. of the police manual it clearly states the chief will inform the mayor of any substantial police activity and I was not informed of the drug bust,” Saleem said. “He has also missed numerous council meetings that is required that he attend.”
Saleem also stated that on one occasion Domish went to his old city of Tieton to testify for some employees who had recently been dismissed by the city.
“He (Domish) didn’t show up for work and didn’t inform me that he was not going to be to work,” Saleem explained. “I just couldn’t wait any longer. I have spent countless hours with him (Domish) and he has undermined my authority and he hasn’t been working with me for over a month. My job is to protect the city and its citizens.”
Currently, Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Hawkins is filling as interim police chief. Hawkins has served as police chief in both Darrington and Sultan through the county’s contract agreement with small cities.
“He (Hawkins) has an impeccable reputation,” Saleem said.
The Sheriff’s department is hopeful the investigation will be concluded within 90 days.