MPD “Turns Up the Heat”

  • MPD “Turns Up the Heat”

    MPD “Turns Up the Heat”

    Chief Announces “Zero Tolerance” on Drug House Violators

    As summer heats up, so is the Martinsburg Police Department’s campaign to identify and clean up drug dealing in properties by utilizing the city’s innovative “Drug House” Ordinance. Police Chief Maury Richards announced today the initiation of another case for illegal drug activity that was being conducted at 207 and 209 S. Kentucky Avenue. Richards appeared yesterday before Martinsburg’s Chief Magistrate to obtain Orders of Abatement to eliminate illegal drug activity at these two locations. A hearing has been scheduled on September 13, 2017 in City Municipal Court to resolve the matter. The owner of the property, Mrs. Dorothy Coyle of Culpeper, Virginia, has been notified of the police department’s action.

    The duplex building on South Kentucky Avenue had been the focus of a long-term drug investigation by the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, a regional partnership between municipal, county, and federal law enforcement. Investigators discovered a large scale drug ring operating out of both residences and documented the criminal activity. Task Force officers obtained search warrants for 207 and 209 S. Kentucky Avenue that were executed with the assistance of MPD’s Special Response Team on the morning of June 19th. Officers recovered cocaine, marijuana, $2,432 in suspect drug money, and a firearm. Also on June 19th, Jarod Blakney was arrested and charged with Distribution of Heroin from 207 S. Kentucky and on June 26th, an arrest warrant was issued for Levar Crawford for Distribution of Heroin from 209 S. Kentucky. Jarod Blakney is the son of James and Margo Blakney, the tenants at 207 S. Kentucky Avenue and Levar Crawford is the tenant of 209 S. Kentucky Avenue.

    “The decent residents and families living on South Kentucky Avenue and on every street in Martinsburg deserve to live in neighborhoods where they don’t have to tolerate a drug house in the middle of their block,” stated Chief Richards. “It’s time for the owners of these properties to step up. MPD will work with any landlord who reports drug activity in their buildings and wants to do something to stop it, but we have a zero tolerance policy for owners who allow these problems to continue by either inadequately monitoring their properties or turning a blind eye to criminal activity,” Richards added.

    MPD Deputy Chief George Swartwood praised the work of the Task Force in shutting down the major drug operation. “The Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force is second to none anywhere in the country. They’re not just locking up the big drug dealers coming out of Baltimore, but all across the Eastern Panhandle, and right here in Martinsburg on Kentucky Avenue. The good neighbors on the block had a problem and the Task Force was there to help. We’re bringing to bear every available resource we have to shut down drug houses in our town.”

    Chief Richards also announced a major breakthrough with the rental property at 518 W. Addition Street, owned by Mr. Bradley Heacock. The ordinance had been invoked on June 12th for previous drug dealing on his property by two people that had been invited in by his tenant. “After being notified that we had invoked the ordinance, Mr. Heacock contacted me immediately to resolve the problem,” stated Chief Richards. “I am pleased to announce that Mr. Heacock has taken effective action in removing the problem tenants, has signed a letter pledging the future screening of new tenants for criminal history, and will ensure that future tenants will be free from convictions for delivery of controlled substances and other criminal offenses. I commend Brad for his concern, action, and cooperation. His property on 518 W. Addition Street is now in full compliance and the case has been dismissed. We look forward to continue working together to prevent these problems from ever recurring,” Richards added.

    Three drug house cases that Richards initiated two weeks ago remain pending and will be heard in Municipal Court on August 30th. The property owners in violation of the ordinance who have been ordered to appear are: Carlos Niederhouser of Charles Town, owner of 301 E. Burke Street; Vantap Teng of Gainesville, Virginia, owner of 235 Porter Avenue; and Richard B. Beavers, owner and resident of 616 N. Second Street. The abatement orders require compliance actions including: evicting the problem tenants, other actions to prevent the recurrence of illegal drug activity, and mandating criminal background checks on future tenants to insure they are “free from convictions for prostitution; illegal gambling; illegal possession, storage, or delivery of or trafficking in controlled substances, or other illegal drug activity.”