SEATTLE – The sweep, which included seizures of drugs and money, was the result of a 3 month long investigation and came on the heels of complaints from Pioneer Square business owners. Citizens’ complaints, especially from business owners frustrated by aggressive and territorial drug dealers who were scaring off their customers, helped focus the efforts of the police.
When drugs are sold on the street, communities live in fear. There tends to be violent crime, property values deteriorate, and businesses leave town. Local business owners described the area as an open-air drug market, where you could buy from different people every day. Through surveillance, detectives learned that many of the people who congregated in the area were involved in narcotics activity. The sting operation, in which detectives posed as drug dealers and buyers, was part of a 3 month long effort. Over the 3 months, detectives built cases against 27 dealers. Of that group, 15 were arrested and detectives will continue to round up the additional suspects. The goal and focus of operation “Roll the Rock” was to disrupt drug-related activity and reduce the fear of crime among local business owners and residents.
The round-up began this afternoon and ended shortly after 10:00 p.m. The operation involved West Precinct Anti Crime Team, Bike Officers, Narcotics Detectives, Patrol, Department of Corrections, and King County Prosecutor’s Office. The 15 suspects arrested in the round up were booked for various felony narcotics crimes.
“When devising a strategy to tackle a local drug market, it is important to think not simply in terms of arresting offenders, but to also consider how best to disrupt the mechanism of the market. We can’t limit ourselves to what police can do. We have to give careful consideration to who else in the community shares responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it”, said Captain Steve Brown, West Precinct Commander.
The dealers mostly live outside the area and they flock to Pioneer Square to sell and take advantage of those who can’t say no. “With the recent arrest we are trying to make Pioneer Square appear less attractive to drug dealers and users. We are trying to send the message loud and clear that Seattle street corners are not an open market. We have many active investigations and anticipate there will be more arrest”, said Lt. Chris Fowler, West Precinct Operations.