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By Clare McGraw
Cheney Free Press 

Cheney Police arrest man for DUI, uncover major youth substance distribution network

 

Last updated 10/26/2023 at 11:03am



CHENEY – In a recent development that has sent a shockwave through the Cheney community, local law enforcement officials arrested a man for driving under the influence (DUI), uncovering a substantial network involved in distributing illicit substances to youth.

The case, presented by Officer Cheyenne Walters of the Cheney Police Department to the TALK 2 Healthy Choices coalition, revealed a disturbing array of illegal items and a rise in youth substance use.

During the recorded meeting, Officer Walters disclosed the findings of the case, which included the arrest of a male suspect for driving under the influence.

A subsequent search warrant for the suspect’s vehicle led to the discovery of two firearms, 37.68 grams of cannabis, 277 vape device battery packs featuring images targeting children and teenagers, and an astonishing 1,500 THC vape cartridges believed to have been diverted to the illegal “black market.”


Additionally, authorities seized 105 sheets of cannabis product labels and marketing stickers designed to deceive consumers into believing the products were obtained legally. The estimated value of the confiscated cannabis was estimated to range between $31,870 and $46,420.

Officer Walters brought up the rise in youth substance use. “This was a huge case for the Cheney Police Department,” said Officer Walters. “We’ve had a rise in juveniles within our community engaging in activities such as being in possession of alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.”

“To get a suspect like this arrested and in custody and to get all those illegal products off the street was huge for us.”


When questioned by coalition members about the origins of these illegal products, Officer Walters explained that the Cheney Police Department has been collaborating with the Liquor Control and Cannabis Board to trace the items back to a local distribution center.

“We are working hand in hand with the Liquor Control and Cannabis Board and the distribution center to figure out where the breakdown in communication was,” Walters said.

This distribution center, though under ongoing investigation, has been cooperative with authorities.

Officer Walters noted that the marketing stickers found on the confiscated products were strategically designed to appeal to a younger generation, featuring images from popular TV shows like Rick and Morty.

“It was very concerning for us to see that it was targeted more towards the younger generation.” The deceptive branding was one of the key strategies employed to make the illicit products appear legal and attractive to underage consumers.

Officer Walters emphasized that the rise in youth substance use is not an isolated incident and is indeed a growing concern in the Cheney community. The successful removal of a significant quantity of these products from the streets is seen as a critical step in addressing the issue.

Moreover, law enforcement officials are noticing a concerning trend where adults are selling these illegal products to youth in the community. Students reported obtaining these substances through social media platforms, primarily Snapchat, often through connections with friends or acquaintances.

While the focus has been primarily on tobacco vapes, cannabis use is also a growing concern in the community. The local distribution center’s involvement in this network adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing investigation.

In an attempt to shed light on the issue and provide support to parents, Officer Walters advised parents to have open conversations with their children about the dangers of minor tobacco and marijuana use. She also encouraged parents to educate themselves on where kids may hide these products.

As a plug for policy work, Officer Walters encouraged community members to stay informed about upcoming bills related to this issue. She also mentioned that “Hidden in Plain Sight,” an educational program, will be returning to Spokane County, providing parents with a valuable opportunity to educate themselves about the risks and challenges posed by youth substance use.

The Cheney community is now faced with the urgent task of addressing the increasing prevalence of youth substance use and ensuring the safety of its younger residents. Law enforcement and concerned parents are united in their efforts to combat this alarming and protect the well-being of the community’s youth.

Author Bio

Clare McGraw, Reporter

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Clare is an Eastern Washington University graduate and a reporter at Free Press Publishing.

 

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