A man investigators say has been dealing marijuana, coke, oxy, and Adderall out of a Capitol Hill apartment for years has been arrested and charged with federal drug crimes after being nailed by Seattle Police detectives working in conjunction with Homeland Security and the King County Sheriff’s Office major crimes unit.
28-year-old Gizachew Degol Wondie was arrested Thursday morning by police at the E Denny Way apartment after an informant tipped off Homeland Security about his activities involving counterfeit Xanax and a King County Sheriff homicide investigation produced the needed search warrants.
Homeland Security says that Wondie was found in his silver Audi in front of the E Denny apartment building about a block from Cal Anderson carrying a robust selection of drugs:
Psilocybin mushrooms and a pound of pot were also found in the vehicle.
Wondie told investigators that the Capitol Hill apartment belonged to a family member. Executing search warrants at the 12th Ave S Beacon Hill apartment where he lived, investigators later the same day turned up more drugs and a pill press machine:
Investigators say the handgun found at Wondie’s apartment was not the murder weapon they were searching for that had been matched by ballistic imaging to a homicide. Investigators say Wondie told them that handgun had been stolen from him during a West Seattle gunpoint robbery two years ago.
Investigators say Wondie denied involvement in the homicide but said he was in near constant fear of being robbed and admitted to being a prolific drug dealer around Capitol Hill and Central Seattle. “Wondie described his business as predominantly pill-based,” though he also sells cocaine and marijuana,” his charging document reads. Wondie also said that he “habitually distributed narcotics in various areas and parks around Capitol Hill.”
Wondie was arrested and charged in the home robbery of a medical marijuana patient on Capitol Hill in 2010 but was acquitted by a jury, according to King County Court records.
According to the report, Wondie’s sales efforts had shifted earlier this year to an alley near 12th and Alder where a witness described seeing the transactions play out:
Investigators write that the production of counterfeit Xanax can be a highly lucrative business with dealers paying about $20,000 for enough “Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient” to produce millions of dollars in pills to sell on the street.
The informant in Wondie’s case was busted in October during a Homeland Security-led sweep of “pharmaceutical traffickers operating in Seattle.” The informant, investigators say, wasn’t found with any Xanax at the time of his arrest — he said he was planning to rob his customers. In a cooperation deal with investigators, the dealer told Homeland Security agents about the fake Xanax business and that he was helping Wondie build a pill press machine but that a key part had been seized at customs.
Wondie has been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. At a Tuesday detention hearing, a U.S. Western District Court judge ruled Wondie to be released on bond under court supervision. Wondie has not yet entered a plea to the charges.
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