Yesterday afternoon, the Union County Drug Taskforce served a search warrant at 2705 ½ Birch St in La Grande. Through the information gathered, as well as a traffic stop conducted by Oregon State Police, law enforcement was able to get approval from a Union County Circuit Court Judge to obtain a signed search warrant, which lists the items deputies were looking for and allows them to lawfully enter the residence to search for them.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Rose Morgan Willis, DOB 2-26-1989, and Phillip Robert Walsh, DOB 4-14-1984, were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance and frequenting a place where controlled substances are used. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges will likely be added. There was also additional people within the residence and as the investigation continues, may also get criminally charged.
The deputies gathered a large quantity of suspected fentanyl, tar heroin, powder heroin, methamphetamine and prescription drugs in excess of $3000 estimated street value.
These arrests were made possible largely due to the drug taskforce being reinstated.
“Recently, changes have been made at the state level that have allowed us to reactivate the Drug Taskforce and actively go after certain activities related to drug trafficking and distribution.”
After Measure 110 was passed, the taskforce had to disband due to the decriminalization of small amounts of illegal drugs. With House Bill 2645, which gave law enforcement more standing to charge for illegal drugs, the taskforce has been reinstated. The taskforce will actively work toward stopping drug trafficking in Union County.
While that is a priority for the Sheriff’s Office, the mission statement for the agency is to provide Professional Law Enforcement Service with Honesty, Excellence, Respect, Integrity, Firmness, Fairness and with Compassion and Valor to the citizens of Union County. For the Sheriff’s Office, and for Sheriff Cody Bowen, keeping the compassion is important. One of these photos shows the Sheriff speaking to Walsh and Willis. Bowen, who knows one of the suspects well, took the time during the investigation to speak to her and ask her what led her down this path again.
“If we lose our compassion, then we lose a part of what makes this community great,” Bowen said.
UCSO would like to thank the Oregon State Police with their assistance in this investigation.