While out driving his tractor on his 40-acre horse farm in rural Tennessee in 1998, Jeremiah Saucier had a sudden moment of clarity — mixed with a slight feeling of relief.
A key player near the top of a major methamphetamine drug ring, Saucier came to the realization that his time living that kind of life was going to come to an end soon.
He was correct.
A short time later, law enforcement vehicles — some marked, some unmarked — converged on his quiet ranch and took him into custody. A trial in Norfolk, Virginia resulted in an eight-year federal prison sentence for Saucier. Thirty-three people were convicted in the operation, resulting in prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life. Government seizures drained Saucier’s bank accounts and took whatever worthwhile possessions he had at the time. It fractured his relationship with his wife and strained his relationship with his three children. But Saucier made one promise to himself before he was locked behind bars.
“I was not going to come out the same man,” the now 62-year-old Saucier told me last week over lunch.
After getting released in 2006, he moved to Washington state to be closer to his sister, who was living in Port Orchard. Cell phones were just starting to come into popularity, and Saucier had never seen a Bluetooth headset or even used a debit card.
“I was scared to death of society,” he said.
But he was determined to stick to the promise he made himself. After settling in to a halfway house in Tacoma and slowly getting accustomed to life on the outside, Saucier started to piece his life back together. The product of what he calls a “dysfunctional youth” while growing up in San Diego, mixed with a long life involved with illegal drugs, Saucier had some work to do.
He eventually got involved with a church on the peninsula, where he met his current wife, Lila, and eventually moved to the Key Peninsula. In the time since he was released from prison, Saucier has managed to earn a counseling degree from Olympic College, work as a counselor at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, and most recently was named the director of Crossroads, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Lakewood.
All of those achievements have now brought Saucier to his most ambitious goal yet: Open a drug and alcohol treatment center on the Key Peninsula.
He has seen some of the telltale signs of illegal drug use in his own community— mainly homelessness caused by addiction in his neck of the woods.
“Epidemic isn’t even the proper word” for the serious issues communities face when heroin is present, Saucier said.
“These (addicts) are broken,” he said. “They have no job skills, and likely have legal issues. What good does it do to clean them up and then put them back out there?”
Saucier would like to build an in-patient center on the Key Peninsula that would give addicts the tools they need over a three-month stay to cope with life once they are clean.
“I don’t give up on anybody,” he said.
So Saucier is talking to anyone who will listen. He’s trying to raise money to get it built while putting himself out there, meeting supporters and community members and sharing his story.
“I’m not proud of my past,” he admits. “I’m not hiding from it. I want people to know ... so everything is transparent.”
Saucier’s well aware of the hurt and pain he caused to many while working in the drug trade — it’s something he lives with every day. But the life in the drug trade also gave him insight and experiences that he can use to help do positive things in the community.
He doesn’t plan on wasting anymore time.