Suspected dealer ditched $240k worth of drugs

An Oak Harbor man fled from three different vehicles and left behind suspected drugs.

Over a six-month period, an Oak Harbor man fled on foot from three different vehicles and left behind huge amounts of suspected fentanyl, methamphetamines and cocaine, according to a report by a detective with the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

The street value of the seized drugs was estimated to be well over $240,000, court documents state.

The suspect, 37-year-old Michael F. Koepke, was one of two people taken into custody June 5 in a high-visibility operation on North Whidbey involving a regional SWAT team, an interlocal drug enforcement unit, federal agents and local police.

A judge in Island County Superior Court set Koepke’s bail at $250,000. The deputy prosecutor asked for the high bail amount, pointing out that the sheer quantities of the drugs indicates that Koepke has access to large amounts of money. In addition, he pointed out that Koepke has an extensive criminal history and was previously convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for committing the same drug crimes, but with substantially smaller quantities. Koepke was released from prison in 2021.

Prosecutors charged Koepke in Island County Superior Court June 7 with two counts of possession with intent to deliver fentanyl and meth, two counts of attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and misdemeanor hit and run.

The drug-related offenses were charged with aggravating circumstances, which could increase the sentence range, based on the scale of the alleged operation.

If convicted of the charges, Koepke would face up to 10 years in prison under the standard sentencing range. A judge could depart from the range if a jury finds the aggravating circumstances exist.

A detective’s report on the case describes the unusual way in which police recovered large amounts of drugs and developed evidence for the search warrant on the North Whidbey home.

On the morning of Aug. 26, firefighters responded to a report of a driver slumped inside a car in Oak Harbor. The driver, who police believe was Koepke, said he had fallen asleep and then he drove off. About 15 minutes later, the car was in a ditch and the driver was walking away on Ault Field Road, according to a detective’s report. Koepke was not found.

A deputy opened the car door to turn off the engine and found a wallet containing Koepke’s credit card as well as suspected meth, the report states. Deputies had the vehicle towed and obtained a search warrant.

Inside the car, investigators found 25.9 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills, 20.5 pounds of suspected meth, 3.7 pounds of suspected cocaine, 0.2 pounds of suspected heroin and a Safeway name tag with the name “Mike K,” the report states.

On the night of Nov. 27, a deputy saw a Range Rover driving on Highway 20 in Oak Harbor without headlights on just before 7:30 p.m. The deputy tried to pull the vehicle over, but it sped away through residential streets in the southwest area of the city. The vehicle struck a parked car and was abandoned — still running — on Southwest 10th Avenue, the report states. Investigators found a wallet containing Koepke’s ID and other identifying documents inside.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the Range Rover and found vacuum-packed bricks of cocaine and a large quantity of fentanyl pills.

On the night of Feb. 7, a deputy driving on West Beach Road flashed his headlights at an oncoming vehicle with its brights on. When the driver didn’t turn off the brights, the deputy tried to pull the car over, but instead ended up in a slow-speed and then a high-speed chase. The vehicle was later found parked on Southwest Fairway Point.

After obtaining a search warrant, investigators found cocaine, heroin and marijuana inside the car, along with a photo strip of Koepke and a woman. Prosecutors have not charged Koepke in relation to this case.

Detectives with the Island County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit last year about the drug seizures allegedly linked to Koepke. The unit’s investigation led to the execution of the search warrant at the Highway 20 house on June 5.

The SWAT team found crack cocaine, meth and fentanyl and thousands of dollars in cash inside Koepke’s vehicle, the report states.

Court documents don’t identify the second person who was taken into custody. A report by a detective with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office states that the investigation is ongoing. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice said she couldn’t comment on matters not filed in court.