Sailors believed cocaine would clear their systems before Navy could drug test them

dwight shrute

As somebody who regularly reads felony filings from Kitsap prosecutors, I was a little puzzled by the interest in a recent bust of suspected cocaine dealers, as cops and prosecutors routinely bust drug dealers and users. By “routine” I mean “almost every single day.”

(Possession of pretty much any drug other than pot – which is legal in the state – is a felony.)

It’s interesting that it appeared the sellers had a strong customer base on-base, shall we say, but mostly it struck me as unusual that the drug was cocaine. There isn’t a lot of cocaine coming to the attention of law enforcement in Kitsap. A little bit of crack now and again — and apparently there is plenty of crack in Seattle and Tacoma — but powder cocaine is more expensive, and less powerful, than meth, a drug for which Kitsap does have a considerable appetite (Meth and heroin, then prescription pills, are what I’ve seen the most of reading felony filings). If I could find on kitsapsun.com a relatively recent story I wrote about Kitsap’s tastes in hard drugs I would link to it here.

(Here is a link to that story)

If I had to bet, however, I would assume there is plenty of coke in the more affluent areas of Kitsap and among certain groups, like the fish swimming through Kitsap waters. However, a coke habit may not be as crippling as other hard drug addictions, so maybe there are more casual users who otherwise keep their affairs in order. They aren’t out there stripping copper wiring from construction sites and jacking baby formula from the Wheaton Way Wal-Mart, so maybe they fly under the radar.

But what I found most interesting was this passage in the probable cause statement, as written by an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office:

“I learned the common belief by the sailors is that users can ingest the Cocaine over the weekend and have the Cocaine clear of their system come Monday morning – if a urinalysis is conducted by the Navy.”

It was, in fact, a urine test that brought the drug use to the attention of the Navy, which then set into motion the bust. So, apparently that calculation was incorrect.

Or maybe it wasn’t.

Marijuana, which sailors are forbidden from using, lingers in a person’s body and for heavy users can be detected for up to a month. At least that’s the common understanding, although it might not be totally accurate these days.

But as for “drugs of abuse,” pot really is the in-law who won’t leave. Almost all other drugs clear out of a person’s system in a matter of days, especially for the casual user.

Cocaine and its metabolites are detectable for up to five days, according to the Mayo Clinic, so depending on the Navy’s drug testing regimen, how often they test, how “random” it is, and an individual’s metabolism, chances are a person could get away with it.

At least, as we have seen, they can get away with it for a while.

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