By Rikki King
Everett Herald writer
EVERETT — A small group of Boeing workers last year used the company’s instant messaging service to arrange drug deals at the Paine Field plant, according to public records.
Boeing conducted an investigation and shared the findings with the Everett Police Department, six months later. The police department says there was not enough evidence at that point to make arrests or seek charges.
When word of the investigation became public in January, neither the company nor police would say what substance was being bought and sold.
It was prescription pills, namely highly addictive painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine, plus Adderall, a medication typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, documents show. Amphetamine pills also were being sold.
The documents were obtained by The Daily Herald recently through a public records request. It took the police department 11 weeks — more than two months — to provide six pages of records.
Boeing earlier said it fired four people as a result of the case. The police report says five were fired. Corporate spokesman Doug Alder on Monday declined to clarify the number. He also declined to say why Boeing didn’t contact Everett police and turn over its reports until Jan. 21, six months after the company received the initial tip about the drug activity.
“We have no further comment, and no further information to add,” Alder wrote in an email Monday.
In January, Boeing also had contacted the regional drug task force, which requested a copy of the reports, records show. The newspaper is not naming the former employees involved as none were charged with a crime.
Boeing became aware of the trafficking in June 2014, after being contacted by the wife of one of the workers involved, the records show. The worker had come clean to her before seeking treatment for his addiction.
He reportedly had been taking six oxycodone a day. He was paying $30 a pill — a $180 habit.
The man was buying the pills at Boeing “on an almost daily basis between mid-2013 and May 2014,” investigators wrote.
The Boeing investigator found numerous instant messages between employees related to prescription drug sales on sie. Code names were used for different drugs, prices and transaction meetups. The code words included “oranges,” “pinks” and “strips in the small packages.”
In one message, an employee expressed disappointment that sales were low, as she had put in a large order with her dealer in anticipation, the investigator wrote.
Additional instant messages from summer and fall of 2014 were found between employees talking about how to doctor-shop to get prescriptions for drugs such as Adderall.
Prescription opiates, including painkillers, are frequently cited as a factor in the community heroin epidemic. People who get hooked on pills later may turn to heroin when they run low on money. Opiate overdoses are one of the most common causes of accidental deaths in Snohomish County. Overall, drug and alcohol overdoses outpaced traffic deaths here in 2013, the most recent year of data available from the county medical examiner.
At Boeing, the transactions took place in the parking lot, the jig — a term for large equipment used to hold plane pieces — in bathrooms and in the locker room. Some of the involved employees worked on the 777 wing line.
Roughly half of the employees named in the report were found to be using their company email or instant messaging service for drug activity. Some had prescriptions for the pills being sold between them.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.