A convicted drug smuggler and horse trainer appeared before a federal magistrate on Friday after his arrest for allegedly operating a rural Whatcom County business that catered to people who want to have sex with animals.

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A Whatcom County man’s friendship and aggressive support for a man convicted in the infamous Enumclaw horse-sex case led to his arrest this week for allegedly operating a bestiality farm just south of the Canadian border, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Douglas Spink, 39, a one-time dot.com millionaire, convicted drug smuggler and horse trainer, was quietly living on rural property south of Sumas when he connected with James Tait, who was in a Tennessee jail on a bestiality charge.

Tait had earlier been convicted of trespassing in 2005 in the Enumclaw case, in which a Gig Harbor man died after having sex with a horse.

The two men’s communications set in motion an investigation that resulted in Spink’s arrest Wednesday at the Sumas farm for suspicion of violating his federal probation for drug smuggling. Federal prosecutors and Whatcom County sheriff’s officials say Spink also allowed people to come to the farm and have sex with animals.

He was “promoting tourism of this nature for bestiality,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Friday.

When county deputies and federal investigators searched the property they found videotapes that included images of a man, who was visiting the property, having sex with several large-breed dogs.

The man, a 51-year-old British national, was arrested for investigation of four counts of bestiality, Elfo said. He is being held in the Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $150,000, Elfo said.

On Wednesday, authorities took several animals, including horses and large-breed dogs, found on Spink’s property into protective custody, Elfo said. Several mice were euthanized, he added. “At this point, we don’t know how many people visited this location or how many engaged in illegal conduct,” the sheriff said. “We’ll see as the federal investigation unfolds.”

The property, Exitpoint Stallions, is reportedly owned by Spink’s mother.

Spink appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he was ordered held until an April 30 detention hearing.

“These are just allegations,” Spink’s attorney, Howard Phillips, said after the hearing. “My client said he has not been engaging in bestiality at all.”

How and why Spink and Tait came to know one another is unclear, but in court Friday federal prosecutors explained how authorities were led to Spink.

During the phone calls between Tait and Spink, the two men talked about their similar views on animals and bestiality, authorities said.

Spink was so concerned about Tait’s arrest in Tennessee for bestiality that Spink called his friend’s lawyers and even pretended to be an attorney himself, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Roe. The phone calls from Spink came to the attention of police in Maury County, Tenn., who eventually learned that Spink was not a lawyer but was on federal probation on the drug-smuggling conviction, authorities said.

Maury County Detective Terry Chandler contacted U.S. Probation in Seattle, authorities said. Tennessee authorities turned over recorded jail phone calls between Spink and Tait to authorities building a case here.

Tait, 58, pleaded guilty in January in Tennessee to engaging in sexual activity with animals and was released on probation. As part of his own probation, Spink was forbidden from talking with other felons, Roe said.

Phillips, Spink’s attorney, concedes that the two men conversed, but said that it was before Tait was convicted of the felony.

If convicted of the probation violation, Spink faces up to five years in prison, Roe said.

Spink is a former Portland businessman who prospered as a mergers-and-acquisitions entrepreneur during the height of the technology boom, but went bankrupt in 2002, according to The Oregonian. He has long trained horses, competed in jumping, and raised dogs, his lawyer said on Friday.

In 2005, Spink was arrested in Monroe after authorities found 371 pounds of cocaine in his car. Authorities said Spink was a drug runner for smuggler Robert Kesling, who once lived in Woodinville.

Spink was sentenced to about three years in federal prison after he cooperated with the government’s investigation into two Seattle-area attorneys who were implicated in the drug-smuggling operation.

James L. White, a criminal-defense attorney and part-time Edmonds Municipal Court judge, and A. Mark Vanderveen, of Shoreline, were sentenced to federal prison time for accepting money from Kesling. Kesling was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Spink was released from prison in May 2007.

In the Enumclaw case, a 45-year-old Gig Harbor man died after having sex with a horse on Tait’s rental farm. Authorities charged Tait with trespassing at a neighbor’s farm on the night of the man’s death. Tait’s neighbors told The Seattle Times in 2005 that they didn’t know that people had been sneaking into their barn to have sex with their horses.

Tait was given a one-year suspended sentence.

In 2006, in response to the Enumclaw case, the Washington Legislature made bestiality a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Jennifer Sullivan: 204-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Information from Seattle Times archives and Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge is included in this report.