Authorities arrested five people after undercover detectives busted employees for selling cocaine at a Papa John’s Pizza in Sammamish, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Dubbed by KCSO and the Sammamish Police Department as “Operation Extra Olives,” the six-month investigation started at the Papa John’s location on 228th Avenue.
Undercover detectives went to the business after receiving reports of employees selling drugs in the parking lot. They were able to buy drugs from two different employees, according to a KCSO spokeswoman.
One of the employees introduced the undercover detectives to other drug dealers in Bellevue and Sammamish.
Multiple Western Washington law enforcement agencies conducted search and arrest warrants on Friday morning.
When carrying out the search warrant at Papa John’s Pizza, detectives used swabs and found cocaine residue on the cash register and wash areas.
The search warrants from Sammamish and Bellevue netted $28,000 in cash, a vehicle and drugs including cocaine, Ecstasy, marijuana, oxycodone, LSD and methamphetamine. See photos here.
Authorities are working with King County Public Health on cleanup procedures.
A former employee of this shop, Sydney Moran, said she had her wallet stolen out of her backpack once, which was stored in an employees-only area. Police did not find the person responsible.
“There were a couple of times when someone had slept in the store overnight,” she said, “I also saw some of the employees drinking. They would drink at night when the manager went home.”
Moran said she also once observed two employees locked in the bathroom for an extended period of time. She asked them what they were doing, and she saw them swipe under their noses.
“I think they were doing drugs,” Moran said.
Papa John's released a statement Friday night:
"Papa John's has zero tolerance for this type of offensive and illegal behavior. The franchisee has confirmed that the employees involved with this situation are no longer employed and we apologize for their actions. The franchisee is working in full cooperation with local law enforcement to resolve this matter. Furthermore, food safety and sanitation is of the utmost importance to Papa John's. The franchisee took immediate action steps, with Health Department oversight, and the location was cleared to reopen."
One of the busts Friday morning happened in a Bellevue neighborhood, where neighbors said at least a dozen people live in the house. A 21-year-old and a 26-year-old were arrested there, in the 15100 block of SE Newport Way.
Ann Michaelson, who lives across the street, said she woke up to the sound of a stun grenade. Then she heard a voice on a megaphone, telling the occupants to come out with their hands over their heads.
She said no one came out, but officers eventually went in.
“It was a big deal. It was all the time,” Michaelson said. “I feel really badly for all the young people that get caught up in that. My heart just aches for the families.”
Officers went to two other homes, both in Sammamish, where they arrested a 19-year-old man and an 18-year-old man.
Another 18-year-old man turned himself into the Sammamish police station later in the day.
Customer Victoria Edwards said, “You don’t give it any thought, and you don’t think like – ‘is my pizza going to be covered in cocaine today?’”
But she said she would still return to buy pizza, especially after law enforcement took care of the issue.
“I’m going to take a bite, and make sure I don’t get any weird post-nasal drip, and I’ll let the kids have some,” she said.
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