SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Deputies with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office and Spokane Valley Police busted a nuisance house Thursday that neighbors say has been plagued by drugs and prostitution for months.
The raid happened at a home near 2nd Ave. and Dearborn Rd. in Spokane Valley Thursday morning. The residence has been connected to 33 calls for law enforcement for drugs, stolen vehicles, suspicious persons, theft, and prostitution since the beginning of this year.
"What made this one stand out to us is we were able to determine that truly a lot of the crime that was occurring in this area was being generated to this residence," Capt. John Nowels with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office's Investigative Division said.
While serving a search warrant, deputies detained more than 20 people and arrested five for charges including possession of controlled substances and possession of a dangerous weapon. One of those arrested, 54-year-old Tracy L. Thornton, is a 15 time convicted felon.
Three of the five taken into custody had warrants for their arrest.
Investigators also said they found heroin, methamphetamine, almost $2000 in cash, a handgun, and hypodermic needles inside the home.
"Really this search warrant is about a culmination of about four months worth of effort between the neighbors here, and the neighborhood, and our patrol division ,and our investigators," Nowels said.
"It's no secret the kind of stuff that goes on here man," neighbor Bart Stewart said. "It's not like a family gathering. It's a steady parade of predatory miscreants."
Stewart has lived in the neighborhood since late 2013 and said this house has been a problem the whole time he's lived here.
"I think the neighbors have pretty much had their fill with it, and lately the more I've come out to get [in a] confrontation with these people, I find more and more neighbors are coming out. We had 11 people lined up shouting them down the other morning. It's just been completely out of hand," Stewart said.
The sheriff's office credits the bust to hard work from deputies and the neighborhood.
"This has been insanely manpower intensive," Nowels said. "There have been hundreds of man hours dedicated to this problem, and we're dealing [with] them as we can."
Thursday morning's events showed him what a neighborhood can accomplish if it works together, Stewart said.
"Don't ever feel like you're powerless," he said. "You've got it within you to shut it down. You've just got to be willing to act."
If you have a nuisance property near your home, keep local law enforcement informed. It takes time for the authorities to build a case, and they often rely on tips from neighbors to make it happen.