More than a year after he reportedly sold fentanyl pills that resulted in the death of a Blaine woman, the Whatcom County Drug and Gang Task Force conducted a controlled purchase of the counterfeit pills from the man.
He also reportedly arranged to sell more than 100 of the illicit blue pills to a sheriff's office source on the day he was arrested.
The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office booked Tanner Allen Larson, 30, into Whatcom County Jail Wednesday, Aug. 3, on suspicion of 10 drug-related charges, including controlled substance homicide. Jail records show Larson is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
"Fentanyl in its clandestine form is a deadly drug," Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a sheriff's office release about Larson's arrest. "The Sheriff's Office will continue to prioritize the investigation of deaths resulting from the street sale of this drug as homicides."
Deputies were asked to assist the Blaine Police Department on investigating an unattended death after Aeschli Wilkinson was found dead by her roommate on May 7, 2021, in their apartment, Whatcom County Superior Court documents released Wednesday, Aug. 9, state. The Whatcom County Medical Examiner's office found fentanyl was in Wilkinson's system and Blaine police found drug paraphernalia at the scene of her death.
Deputies spoke to Wilkinson's roommate, who reported that Wilkinson hurt her back at work approximately a month before her death and had been prescribed seven Tramadol pills for the pain, documents state. The roommate reported that Wilkinson was still complaining of pain after taking the Tramadol and that she began talking about a person named "Tanner."
Deputies then spoke to an associate of Wilkinson's, who reported that Wilkinson had seemed depressed, in pain and inquired whether the associate knew anyone who could get her pain medication, according to documents. The associate also reported that Wilkinson had been hanging out with a man named "Tanner," who was new to the area and whom Wilkinson contacted through Facebook Messenger looking for pain medication.
The deputies received a copy of Wilkinson's Facebook messages and found that she had contacted two people, including Larson, about obtaining pain killers, documents state.
The messages showed Larson and Wilkinson exchanging several messages between April 28 and May 7, 2021, and arranged multiple purchases of pills, according to documents. Each time, Wilkinson agreed to pay $100 for eight pills.
On May 6, Wilkinson sent Larson a message saying she was shorted on the last transaction and sent him a photo of six blue pills, believed to be fake oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, in a tan unlabeled pill bottle, documents state. Blaine officers found a similar tan pill bottle at the scene where Wilkinson's body was located.
Messages showed Larson apologized for the short delivery and said he would either get Wilkinson two more pills or refund some of her money, according to documents.
"At this point in the investigation we are unable to locate any other suspects other than (Larson) who sold (Wilkinson) narcotics," court documents state.
In early June, the Whatcom Gang and Drug Task Force conducted a controlled purchase of suspected fentanyl-laced pills made to look like oxycodone pills from Larson, according to court documents. The transaction was video and audio recorded.
On Aug. 3, the deputies were contacted by a source who told them that Larson had reached out to them through Facebook Messenger saying that he was looking to sell "blue berries" - a common name for the fake oxycodone pills, documents state. Larson and the source reportedly arranged a time to meet and agreed to exchange 105 pills for $420.
Deputies contacted Larson walking in the 4300 block of Meridian Street and arrested him on the outstanding probable cause. While searching him, documents state deputies found $144 in cash, a bag containing approximately 12.9 grams of suspected counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl, a bag containing an unidentified powder and burnt aluminum foil with narcotic residue.
"Potential users of this drug should be aware of its lethal nature and those that deal in the drug should know that if a death results, they will be charged with homicide," Elfo said in the release. "I'm very proud of the efforts of our detectives in building this and all recent fentanyl investigations."