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Stillaguamish Tribe, ATF offer few details on smoke shop raid
ARLINGTON Both Stillaguamish Tribal members and representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were reticent to offer further comment on the May 15 raid of the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop.
Ed Goodridge Jr., executive director and vice chair of the Tribe, co-owns the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop with his father, Ed Goodridge Sr., economic development chief executive officer and former chair of the Tribe. Goodridge Jr. declined to comment, but his brother Dean, manager of the smoke shop, reported that federal agents raided the apartment in which he lives, as well as the home of Goodridge Sr., May 15. After Stillaguamish Tribal Chair Shawn Yanity explained that the shop is located on tribal land, but exists as a private business owned by the Goodridge family, he declined to comment further, until the Tribe had time to confer with attorneys.
ATF Special Agent and Public Information Officer Julianne Marshall elaborated that Operation Chainsmoker served seven federal search warrants in Washington and Oregon May 15, targeting the illegal trafficking of cigarettes. No arrests have been made, and Marshall stated that she could not clarify if or when that might happen.
Its an ongoing investigation, Marshall said. The court order is still sealed, so we cant disclose what the probable cause was. Obviously, evidence was seized, but its still being analyzed. We cant say how long this investigation will last, or even if charges will be filed.
Marshall refuted the view that cigarette trafficking amounts to a victimless crime by pointing out the ways in which cigarette taxes support either residents of Washington state or tribal members themselves, depending upon which types of tax stamps are applied to the cigarettes.
For tribes with compacts, the tax goes back to the tribes essential government services, such as tribal administration, public facilities, fire, police, public health, education, job services, sewer, water, environmental and land use, transportation, utility services and economic development, Marshall said. For tribes that choose not to have compact agreements, the taxes generated from Washington tax-paid stamps are applied toward state health care, K-12 education, water quality, drug enforcement and salmon recovery.
Marshall emphasized that the only tax-exempt cigarettes would be those sold on tribal lands to members of those same tribes. She added that such taxes allow tribal and non-tribal businesses to meet on a more equal level.
They deserve a fair playing field, Marshall said. If you run a non-tribal convenience store, how can you compete with a shop thats selling non-taxed cigarettes? Even other tribes, that sell cigarettes lawfully, have asked us to step up our enforcement efforts, because its affecting them too. This adds up to millions of dollars each year.
Dean Goodridge stated that cigarette sales at the smoke shop are taxed by the Tribe, and that federal agents found no cigarettes on his property. He reported that several of his cars were scratched during the raid and noted that agents seized documents, including old tax forms and Stillaguamish Tribal papers, as well as a computer, which he said is mostly used by his children.
The Goodridge family assumed ownership of the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop in 2003. The smoke shop was raided in 2001 while being run by Tulalip Tribal member Stormmy Paul, who is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a federal charge involving illegal trafficking in untaxed cigarettes. According to Dean Goodridge, his family has had no ties to Paul since 2003.