Bruce Mathwich. Photo courtesy Okanogan County Sheriff

Matthew Bruce Mathwich. Photo courtesy Okanogan County Sheriff

UPDATED 5/20/2014

By Don Nelson

A 38-year-old Twisp man was arrested last Wednesday (May 14) on multiple drug charges related to possession and sale of methamphetamine, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said in a press release.

Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow said that his department took Matthew Bruce Mathwich into custody at Mathwich’s home in Twisp, acting on information from the sheriff’s office and the North Central Washington Narcotics Task Force. Budrow said the Twisp residence is “a known drug house.”

Mathwich was transported to the Okanogan County Jail and booked on the following charges, Rogers said:

• Three counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine.

• Three counts of Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine, Within 1,000 Feet of a School Bus Stop.

• One count of Possession of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine, With Intent to Deliver.

Rogers said the investigation that led to the charges against Mathwich is related to the arrests and search warrant conducted on April 15 at Gebbers Camp 2 by members of the narcotics task force, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and United States Border Patrol.

The investigation turned up evidence that Mathwich allegedly was distributing multiple ounces of methamphetamine a week in the Twisp area, Rogers said. Mathwich told investigators he was selling methamphetamine to at least 25 or 30 different people in Twisp and the surrounding area, according to Rogers’ press release.

“Mathwich stated that dealing drugs was his only source of income, as he did not have a job,” Rogers said in the press release.

Mathwich told detectives that his suppliers were individuals who were living in the “lost city” near Brewster but that those individuals had been arrested, according to Rogers’ press release. Task Force detectives know the “lost city” as Gebbers Camp 2, Rogers added.

When Mathwich was arrested last week, he allegedly was found in possession of about 23 grams of methamphetamine, Rogers said in the release.

Budrow said that local law enforcement officers are aware of most drug dealers and buyers in the Methow Valley, but it’s difficult to make arrests during drug transactions because the players know all of the police officers as well.
Budrow and Rogers also noted that it’s difficult to use under-cover operatives in small communities because unfamiliar people are not likely to be trusted.

Nonetheless, the cases often start with local investigations, Budrow said. “We get the information and pass it along to the task force,” he said.

“Information obtained by detectives also shows that there is a heroin problem in Twisp and surrounding areas and they have been able to identify some of the suppliers,” Rogers said in his press release.

In an interview this week, Rogers said that his office has seen increased use of heroin all over the county. Many drug users are moving up the spectrum from pills such as oxycontin, to meth, to heroin, the sheriff said. Because methamphetamine is readily available through existing drug pipelines that often originate in Mexico, it’s no longer necessary or practical to produce it locally, Rogers added.