LUMMI INDIAN RESERVATION, Wash. — For a time, Room 246 at the Scottish Lodge Motel, 13 miles south of the Canadian border, was a Shangri-La for Eugenia Phair.
With its stained carpets, its stench of vomit and stale cigarette smoke, its bathroom sink smudged with burn marks from the crack-cocaine cooks who had used the room before, Room 246 was where her drug smuggling operation began to take off, she said, the first headquarters of what would become a well-organized and lucrative drug ring on and around this reservation.
Over the next few years, Ms. Phair, 26, a Lummi Indian, and her family grew flush and dizzy with drug money, as she rocketed to the top in the ripe and cutthroat world of Indian drug trafficking, selling painkillers, she said, to everyone including tribal officials and jobless strung-out addicts.
"It was almost an answer to your prayers," said Ms. Phair, who was released on Feb. 6 after serving 20 months in state prison. "If you came from rags and then you had a chance at riches, wouldn't you choose riches? If you lived your whole life in poverty and then you had a chance to be rich, what would you do? It's almost impossible. I never had anything ever, no new clothes, no school-clothes shopping, no nothing at all. Then you're able to have your kids go to a good school and look nice and fit in. I never fit in."