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Tainted drugs suspected in death, result in federal charges against Bellingham man

A Bellingham man was charged in federal court today with 2 drug crimes after an investigation into a recent drug use fatality was linked to him, according to US Attorney Brian Moran.

Lummi Tribal Police and the FBI began an investigation Monday, September 30th, after medics responded to a home on the Lummi reservation for a woman who was unresponsive. The woman could not be revived with NARCAN, an antidote that reverses effects for people showing signs of an opioid overdose. 

On September 30th, Lummi Police booked Nathan Allen Cultee Jr, age 35, into the Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of homicide and Tiffany Lynn Rowe-Cultee, age 31, was later booked October 1st by Lummi Police on suspicion of homicide and criminal accomplice.

Lummi Police Chief Robert Wilson issued a press release yesterday, October 1st, saying they were investigating an incident involving a tribal member who may have been supplied fentanyl, “a potentially lethal synthetic opioid, disguised as the counterfeit Oxycodone,” resulting in their death.

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According to a complaint filed in federal court, pills ingested by the woman were linked to Tony Lee Williams, age 33, of Bellingham.

According to the complaint, a search warrant was served on William’s apartment in Bellingham. Cocaine, heroine, “Oxy 30” pills, a scale and a firearm was seized as a result of the search. Williams was then charged with suspicion of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and distribution of heroin, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Lab analysis of the pills is underway to determine whether they are tainted with a substance such as fentanyl according to Moran.

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Moran is quoted in a Department of Justice press release yesterday as saying, “Right now we don’t know whether the pills are directly connected to the death. However, anyone buying street pills that appear to be oxycodone 30s – like those described in this case – could be risking his or her life by ingesting them.”

The Lummi Police press release stated, “Fentanyl is a very potent drug that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Most victims of overdose are unaware they are taking fentanyl, which can be either a contaminant or a mislabeled drug sold by the illegal drug market.”

“It is critically important that the word go out about these potentially deadly pills,” Moran is quoted as saying in the Department of Justice press release.

The Seattle Times reported today that 2 16-year-old boys, both students at Skyline High School in Sammamish, recently died after taking counterfeit Oxycodone tablets laced with fentanyl. The article noted that 6 people, ages 16 to 37 have died from fentanyl overdoses in the past week in King County.

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