The Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

The Snohomish County Jail. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Snohomish County Jail employee charged in drug smuggling

Alexis Wafstet was charged with drug possession. Several inmates were allegedly in on the plot.

UPDATE, 2:10 p.m. Thursday: Alexis Wafstet resigned effective Thursday, according to sheriff’s spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe.


 

EVERETT — A Snohomish County Jail employee claimed she was threatened into smuggling drugs for inmates, according to new charging papers.

Alexis Wafstet, 45, a classification specialist tasked with deciding housing situations for those behind bars, was charged last week in Snohomish County Superior Court with possession of a controlled substance with no prescription.

Deputy prosecutor Elliott Thomsen, who wrote the charges, didn’t object to her staying released from jail while she awaits trial, so long as she attends her court hearings. She was on paid administrative leave this week pending an internal investigation.

Detectives with the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force reviewed hours of calls, video chats and messages coming from the jail. The investigation found six inmates were talking to the same people outside the jail and appeared to be getting drugs from a jail employee. On May 12, at least two of those inmates were found hiding buprenorphine.

While reviewing phone calls made in Spanish, a corrections deputy heard references to an “older lady” who worked as a counselor at the jail and lived nearby. The deputy also listened to a phone call in which an inmate asked for an update on “presents” that were supposed to arrive.

The same corrections deputy recalled that Wafstet lived nearby and that he once gave her a ride to work during a snowstorm.

When detectives interviewed Wafstet, she at first claimed not to know anything about drugs being smuggled into the jail, according to the charges.

Wafstet reported she assisted one of the inmates allegedly involved in the plot with paperwork and with reaching his runaway daughter. She went so far as to meet his ex-girlfriend and daughter at a 7-Eleven near the jail while off-duty. She reported she knew such a meeting was against policy and that she never told management. According to charging papers, Wafstet said she had a similar childhood to the daughter and felt she could help.

Wafstet also reported she recently was threatened by a man. He wore a blue bandana over his face and showed her a picture of her 24-year-old son, she said. He gave her a note, threatening that she had to do what they said or her son could be hurt, according to her account. Wafstet later reported meeting with a man at the QFC by her house. He gave her something — what she assumed to be drugs — wrapped in a nitrile rubber glove, and was told to give it to the inmate she had been helping.

She gave the package to the inmate on Mother’s Day, she reportedly told detectives. He later returned it, saying it wasn’t what he wanted, according to charges. Wafstet also said she brought the inmate another package on a different day but didn’t know what was inside, according to the charges.

At her home, Wafstet showed detectives an egg-shaped item wrapped tightly in pieces of a glove and cellophane — packaging “consistent with that used by someone who would smuggle illegal substances internally,” Thomsen wrote. Inside was a strip of the opioid medication buprenorphine, 3.8 grams of a tar-like substance that tested positive for heroin and unidentified crushed orange pills.

Wafstet gave detectives a piece of paper with the threatening note that reportedly was left by the man who showed up at her house. She believes the note’s handwriting belonged to the inmate she was assisting. Charging papers did not describe what was written.

Detectives took Wafstet’s phone and received a judge’s permission to search it. Prosecutors noted that there were messages exchanged with two other suspects.

Prosecutors noted the defendant had no previous criminal history.

At the time of her arrest, the sheriff’s office indicated Wafstet could face more charges, depending on the outcome of the investigation.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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