SEATTLE, WA – Police seized a large cache of drugs across three downtown locations last week during operations against drug dealers.

In the first operation, bike officers came across a 26-year-old alleged drug dealer and a 20-year-old sitting in an SUV at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Madison Street. Inside the SUV, they found a stash of drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, Xanax, Oxycontin, Viagra, psychedelic mushrooms, a handgun, and cash, they said.

The 26-year-old was turned over to the Department of Homeland Security, although police underscored that he’s a U.S. citizen. The other man was connected with a drug diversion program.

After those arrests, police were able to set up a meeting with another dealer who was working out of an apartment in Belltown along 3rd Avenue. They arrested the 35-year-old dealer, who apparently gave police permission to search his apartment – and they found more drugs.

Inside the apartment, police said they found 60 grams of heroin, 80 grams of meth, 58 grams of shrooms, 25 Oxycontin pills, 25 Viagra pills, and a large caliber gun. The dealer also told police about another stash he was keeping at a hotel along 6th Avenue, and they found 379 grams of meth there.

The dealer was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of possession of narcotics and possession of a firearm.

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Seattle Police have determined that the Belltown shooting on Thursday, January 19th at the Crocodile Cafe was gang related.

An unidentified shooter opened fire on the live music venue, hitting three people. Police believe the target was an unoccupied car parked outside, and that the victims were not the intended targets. The shooting is believed to be instigated by a dispute between two rival gangs.

“I was in the bar area, and then I heard two shots,” Samantha Cambray told Kiro 7 News. “Then I tried looking for my sister.”

“I was in the front, at the stage and they were pulling me down, but I just kind of ran backstage,” her sister, Veronica Cambray, said.

One of the victims, a male, was transported to Harborview Medical Center with serious injuries, and as of Friday, January 20th, was in the ICU. The other two victims were women who were hit while inside the club. One was in satisfactory condition, while the status of the other victim was unclear. All victims are expected to survive, since none had life-threatening injuries.

According to police, there were six similar attacks where shots were fired, targeting houses and cars. They took place around the Seattle area but primarily in South Seattle and South King County, and occurred in just one week around mid-January. There are warrants out for some of the suspects in these shootings, but none have been arrested.

Mid-last month, we heard that Tia Lou was losing their liquor license due to repeated and ongoing problems. A Komo News report stated that the Belltown nightclub was being ordered by the city to stop serving alcohol at the end of 2016. “This one nightclub has been monopolizing public safety resources,” said Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.

As of today, Tia Lou is listed as permanently closed.

SPD has recorded problems at Tia Lou back to 2007, with numerous thefts, assaults, and even the rape of a woman who was passed out in a restroom at the club. “We’ve had hundreds of police calls for service at this nightclub, calls where people have been assaulted, calls with gun violence, robbery, sexual assault, all generated from this one nightclub,” Whitcomb said.

Last October, Tia Lou was denied renewal on their existing license, and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board revoked their liquor license on November 30th, with an effective date and time of 5 p.m. on December 30th.

Numerous Belltown residents around the club have also complained to the city and police about noise, drugs and other illegal activity. For example, a neighbor told Komo News that he had to call the SPD’s non-emergency line 45 times in just 17 weeks to complain during the summer of 2013.

While there was an application to transfer Tia Lou’s liquor license before the end of the year, it seems to have been denied, since the club’s website says that it is closed until further notice. Yelp and Google also list the club as closed.

A pedestrian woman was hit by a car between 7:30 and 8 a.m. on Monday, October 10th, resulting in life-threatening injuries. Firefighters had to lift the car in order to get the injured woman out of the wreckage.  

Once retrieved, the 55-year-old woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of her life-threatening injuries. According to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg, the woman was in critical condition last Monday.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Wall Street and 5th Avenue, and was so extensive as to block the intersection. When SPD officers spoke to the driver, they found no signs of impairment. The cause of the accident wasn’t immediately provided, but because the car was in the middle of a crosswalk, the woman may have been hit because the driver didn’t see her attempting to cross.

Detectives are still investigating this accident.

Featured photo source: Vernal Coleman for the Seattle Times.

Last April (2015), Seattle Police arrested more than 100 suspected drug dealers and thieves as the kick-off to Mayor Ed Murray’s “9 ½ Block Strategy” to reduce crime in the downtown corridor. At the time, there was significant controversy as to whether or not the strategy was wasteful or mis-targeted. Over the weekend, the Seattle Times released an analysis of crime data to report on the results of the strategy.

Over the months that followed the springtime arrests last year, SPD reported a dramatic drop in calls about drug-related crime. However, calls about the same type of crime increased significantly in the areas surrounding the target zone downtown. Officials have admitted that there may have been some displacement of crime, but they believe that in general, drug crime has been increasing city-wide.

“The philosophy was to take an environment and focus on root causes — drug markets,” Mayoral Advisor Scott Lindsay, said in an interview. “The 9½ Block Strategy has been effective in starting the public-safety turnaround of the downtown core, the most dense and visited place in Seattle.”

The target zone is between 1st and 4th Avenues and Union and Stewart Streets (a 9.5 block area, hence the name of the strategy). As compared with narcotics-related calls from May-December 2014, the same period in 2015 had 48 percent fewer calls. In an interview in April 2016, SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole discussed the reduced illegal activity: “You walk through Westlake Park now and it’s an entirely different experience than it was a year and a half ago,” she said.

Meanwhile, 9-1-1 calls about narcotics activity rose in the areas surrounding Downtown, including Belltown, the Chinatown International District, Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, First Hill and Capitol Hill. The area with the steepest increases was First Hill, with 151 percent more narcotics calls.

David Weisburd, a criminology professor at George Mason University, says that these increases likely mean that crime is rising across Seattle and not that crime was just displaced from Downtown to surrounding neighborhoods. “Thirty years ago, the assumption was that if you knocked down crime on a particular street, it would pop up again on the next street. But that usually doesn’t happen,” Weisburd said. “I don’t think the data allow you to draw a strong conclusion either way. There might have been some displacement, but the data don’t suggest it.

READ MORE at the Seattle Times website.

Featured photo source: Wikipedia Commons