- Aug 09
MPD Shuts Down New Drug House—Makes Arrests and Seizes Cash, Drugs, & Guns
The Martinsburg Police Department announced today two more major drug arrests, the shutting down of a large-scale illegal drug selling operation, and the initiation of one more case under the city’s “Drug House Ordinance.” The latest drug house to be shut down by MPD is the rental property at 417 W. John Street where police arrested two offenders for serious drug-related charges, found large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine, seized almost $4,000 is suspect drug money, and recovered two stolen handguns.
On August 3rd, Martinsburg police officers responded to a call of a “burglary-in-progress” at 417 W. John Street. While on the scene investigating the complaint and conducting a security check of the building, Corporal Justin Harper alertly observed evidence of illegal drug activity in plain view including digital scales used in the weighing of illegal drugs, drug residue, large quantities of heroin and crack cocaine packaged for sale in plastic baggies, a stack of money piled next to the drugs, and two fully loaded handguns. Corporal Harper recovered the evidence, directed assisting officers to secure the crime scene, and obtained a search warrant for the rest of the residence.
The tenant, Avis Garrido and another resident, Ricky Lee Cole, were placed in custody and charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Heroin and Crack Cocaine. In addition to the digital scales and other drug packaging paraphernalia, MPD officers recovered 10.8 grams of heroin, 23.2 grams of crack cocaine, and $3,741 in suspected drug money. The estimated street value of the seized drugs totaled $6,800 and investigation of the two handguns recovered by Corporal Harper revealed both firearms to be stolen. Further investigation identified a third resident, William Ronald Monroe, as a person of interest in the case.
A name check revealed that Monroe is currently on probation for a federal felony drug conviction. At the time of the MPD response to West John Street, Monroe was not on the scene and his whereabouts remain unknown at this time.
The seriousness of the illegal drug selling activity at 417 W. John Street also triggered the application of the city’s “Drug House Ordinance.” Yesterday, Police Chief Maury Richards appeared before Martinsburg’s Chief Magistrate to obtain an Order of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity on the property. The listed owner, Ms. Janet Hiett, was found to be in violation of the Drug House ordinance and has been sent a written notification of the Chief Magistrate’s action. Hiett is scheduled to appear before the Municipal Court of the City of Martinsburg on October 17th to provide evidence that she has complied with the Chief Magistrate’s order.
“Our officers’ quick response and action on John Street was absolutely fantastic,” stated Chief Richards. “Running illegal drugs out of our community is one of MPD’s top priorities. The decent citizens of Martinsburg deserve to live in safe, drug free neighborhoods. We’re making steady progress and will continue to step up our use of the Drug House Ordinance to shut down drug houses one at a time,” the MPD Chief added.
Deputy Chief George Swartwood also praised the recent MPD police work. “Great work, excellent follow-up, a lot of dope taken off the street, and another drug house shut down. Corporal Harper and all our officers on the scene were just excellent,” Swartwood stated.
Since June of last year Martinsburg’s Drug House Ordinance has been applied 11 times, successfully shutting down drug houses in neighborhoods across the city. Under the provisions of the ordinance, property owners are subject to fines if they fail to take appropriate action to abate the problem after 30 days of notification. The Order of Abatement announced today contains compliance stipulations including: evicting 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.” The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property.