Case morphs into drug trafficking charge

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PRIEST RIVER — A small-time shoplifting bust morphed into a big-time heroin trafficking bust on Monday, according to a Priest River Police report.

Joshua Gordon Swanson is charged with heroin trafficking and possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Swanson is further charged with resisting arrest and misdemeanor theft, according to a criminal complaint.

Swanson, a 31-year-old rural Priest River resident, made an initial appearance on Tuesday in Bonner County Magistrate Court via video link with the county jail. Judge Tera Harden set Swanson’s bail at $150,000 and appointed a public defender to represent him, court records show.

Priest River Police were summoned to Mitchell’s Harvest Foods on Monday afternoon after store employees confronted Swanson for exiting with cigarette lighters and personal care products concealed on his person, according to a probable cause affidavit.

When Officer Tanner Bodie arrived, Swanson allegedly tried to push past a store manager. Bodie and sheriff’s deputy Justin Penn arrested Swanson after a brief struggle that also drew in police Chief Drew McLain, according to the affidavit.

A search of Swanson’s pockets turned up a 37.4-gram wad of heroin, in addition to the other drugs and paraphernalia. Between the large stash of heroin and the $2,000 cash in Swanson’s wallet, authorities believed Swanson was dealing the drugs, the affidavit said. The police affidavit also notes that Swanson was convicted of drug trafficking in Washington state in 2012.

Swanson admitted the drugs were his, but he denied that he was selling them, the affidavit said.

The value of the products stolen from the store was approximately $23. The value of the narcotics recovered during Swanson’s arrest was estimated at $5,000, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Dec. 12.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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