PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of drug possession, intent to sell and illegal possession of a firearm.
Richard Welches, 28, was sentenced Wednesday to 265 months in prison followed by 12 months of supervision by the state Department of Corrections, according to the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, an anti-drug task force made up of multiple law enforcement agencies.
According to OPNET, Welches pleaded guilty to three counts of possession with intent to deliver for fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine; three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree and two counts of possession of a stolen firearm.
The charges stem from September 2020 when law enforcement went to Welches’ home to serve an outstanding warrant and found 463 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 10 grams of heroin, $14,868 in cash and two rifles, one of which had previously been reported stolen.
Welches is a convicted felon and prohibited from having firearms.
In October 2020, OPNET found evidence of a plan by Welches and an accomplice to introduce controlled substances to the Clallam County Jail, where Welches was an inmate. Welches’ accomplice was out of the jail’s custody, OPNET said.
Additional charges were forwarded to the Clallam County prosecutor’s office.
Law enforcement returned to Welches’ home in January 2021 to serve another outstanding warrant and subsequently found eight individually packaged balls of heroin, fentanyl pills, suspected LSD and digital scales.
In May 2022, law enforcement again went to Welches’ home for an outstanding DOC warrant and three local warrants, and they found Welches hiding in the building’s insulation. During that search, officers found nine firearms, five of which were confirmed previously stolen, as well as fentanyl pills, scales, packaging material and $1,700 in cash.
Welches was given a longer sentence due to his prior convictions, according to Brian King, chief criminal deputy for the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and OPNET’s narcotics team commander.
“This is more of a significant sentence because of the number of cases that were pending against him,” King said.
King added the case exemplified the effectiveness of OPNET and the good coordination of the multiple law enforcement agencies on the Olympic Peninsula, including the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Port Angeles Police Department, Sequim Police Department, United States Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Port Townsend Police Department.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at [email protected]