A drug house
rattles residents, how are these dealt with?
SNOHOMISH — Homeowners addressed the City Council recently about a “drug house” disrupting the neighborhood and demanded police act on it.
One of the nearby homeowners said at the home in the vicinity of Avenue B and Sixth Street, there is trash everywhere, and drugs are coming in and outside at all times of the day.
For the past year, the people using the house have been disturbing and scaring the neighbors around them. The homeowner said to elected officials that this has caused her to put up an alarm system and she is thinking of even putting up cameras. She and her neighbors set up a neighborhood watch and have called the police several times, sometimes various times in just a few days.
“In the last two days I’ve had to call the police twice but they (people at the drug house) just keep coming,” the nearby homeowner said to council. “And they now have different ways of communicating with each other and I see this on a regular basis because I live on the corner. I just want to know why we have to jump through so many hoops just to get this taken care of.”
The Snohomish Police Department declined to comment for this story because the case is part of an ongoing investigation.
But how are drug houses dealt with in Snohomish?
Lt. David Hayes has been assigned to the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force (SRDTF) for the past three years. The SRDTF is a multi-agency task force comprising the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Everett Police Department, Lynnwood Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Washington Department of Corrections and federal partners. This is the largest drug task force in Washington.
Nuisance houses are constantly popping up. Hayes said the local police investigate them, only handing it off to the SRDTF if it may be part of a bigger investigation.
“As a multi-agency task force, we focus largely on mid-to-high level drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations,” Hayes said. “So our primary focus is not on the local street-level drug dealer.”
However, Hayes said that’s often where the task force’s investigations start. They may look into some select nuisance houses for their larger investigations if contacted by a local agency such as the Snohomish Police Department. Usually, local police departments should be able to deal with low-level drug enforcement issues.
According to Mayor Linda Redmon, Snohomish rarely has issues with drug houses, so citizens are rightfully worried when something like this happens.
Redmon said she believes the neighborhood watch established in the area will have positive outcomes.
“I know that there's other neighborhood watches in the city,” Redmon said. “One in particular, in an area called Morgantown, saw a drastic decrease in calls that neighbors had to place to the police because they started just being a visible presence. And the (residents of the) problematic property there started toning down what they were doing.”
Judith Kuleta said a few years ago, she lived near a nuisance house in her neighborhood. The City Council member described how the residents would use and sell drugs, cause disruptions and get into fights with other neighbors.
“I remember, because I thought of selling, it was so bad,” Kuleta said.
She said the police frequently visited the house. They arrested some of the residents, only for them to come back a little while later. Eventually, the property owners evicted the residents in 2019 after a lot of effort.
Kuleta said she would also hear yelling, screaming and constant foul language. She believed that there was domestic violence also going on. Kuleta believes the issue of nuisance houses and drugs is complex and involves multiple aspects.
“If you look at the house that was here in my neighborhood, there were young children there,” Kuleta said. “I mean, you can’t just snatch the children away.”
The drug task force has constant work to do.
In the first three quarters of 2022, the drug task force conducted 236 individual cases and made 116 arrests. They have also seized 2,297.62 grams of methamphetamine, 14,709 counterfeit pills stamped “M30” containing fentanyl, 6,656 grams of heroin and 218 grams of pure fentanyl powder during the same time frame. Investigations often can take them outside of Washington state.
Hayes said fentanyl has become the most used drug in Snohomish in recent years, with methamphetamines coming in at a close second.
Hayes said help is available to people addicted to drugs.
Snohomish County’s Human Services division has programs and services which include arranging drug treatments for youth and adults. Even if people find themselves in custody at the Snohomish County Jail, they can access to various services such as treatment, counseling, job services and housing.
Redmon said when a person is arrested for drug use, she hopes the treatment option is available when given a choice between facing the charge or treatment. She says that if people can be moved into treatment sooner, it can alleviate some of the problems neighborhoods must deal with.
“I think the goal of everybody is to make sure people aren’t living with addiction without any way to get help,” Redmon said.
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