- Jun 08
MPD Search Warrants & Arrests Shut Down Two More Drug Houses
The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the initiation of two more cases under the city’s “Drug House Ordinance” for the rental properties at 504 W. Race Street and 731 Osborne Way. After successful search warrants conducted by MPD during the past weekend, both residences were discovered to be locations of illegal drug operations. Police Chief Maury Richards appeared earlier today before Martinsburg Chief Magistrate Ella Buckner to obtain Orders of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity documented at the two locations. The owner of the Race Street property has been identified to be CAB Industries LLC in care of Chris Baker. The owner of the Osborne Way residence is John Gaestel. Both Baker and Gaestel have been found to be in violation of the Drug House Ordinance.
On May 19th on 504 W. Race Street, MPD arrested one of the residents, Samantha Huffman age 29, who was charged with Manufacturing a Schedule 1 Drug after officers recovered methamphetamine, a digital scale, and packaging material for sale and distribution. The latest Drug House Ordinance action started with a traffic stop conducted by MPD Sergeant Justin Darby. Sergeant Darby found evidence of illegal drug activity and was immediately assisted by Lieutenant Scott Funkhouser and Corporal Andrew Garcia and their investigation led them to Race Street apartment. Corporal Garcia alertly observed evidence of further illegal drug activity and obtained a search warrant while Darby and Funkhouser secured the scene.
Corporal Justin Harper and Canine Unit Officer Ryan Fritz conducted an on-going drug investigation that resulted in obtaining the search warrant for 731 Osborne Way. On May 18th, after making entry to the residence with the assistance of other MPD officers, police conducted a search of the residence and canine Atlas alerted to the scent of illegal drugs. Officers recovered a quantity of methamphetamine, heroin, a digital scale box, and drug packaging material. Two of the residents, Thomas Higgins age 48; and Carley Stotler age 24, were arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine.
The Race Street and Osborne Way properties are the 26th and 27th Drug Houses shut down by MPD under the city’s innovative drug fighting tool. Calls-for-service records show that since the date of final disposition of the previous 25 Drug Ordinance cases, there have been zero complaints of drug-selling activity at any of these locations. Total calls-for-service at those locations were reduced by more than 90%. During the 12 months prior to MPD’s search warrant and arrest at 504 W. Race Street, there were 12 calls for police service. During the same time period, the police responded to 7 calls for service at the Osborne Way residence.
Commenting upon the recent MPD enforcement action, Chief Richards stated, “The Drug House Ordinance keeps proving to be very effective at shutting down illegal drug-selling operations and keeping them shut down. This past weekend our officers did an outstanding job with these last cases but before we finally solved the problem, MPD had to respond to these two locations 19 different times. We need landlords to step up and stay on top of what’s going on at their rental properties. Moving forward, I am hopeful that we will receive full cooperation from Mr. Baker and Mr. Gaestel.”
Baker and Gaestel are scheduled to appear before Municipal Judge Dale Buck on July 25, 2018 to provide evidence that he has complied with the Chief Magistrate’s order to clean up the drug problem on his property and prevent it from recurring in the future. Written notifications have been sent to both landlords.
The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property. Huntington, Parkersburg, and Clarksburg, West Virginia have enacted similar drug house ordinances based on Martinsburg’s to help fight the drug problem. Under the provisions of the Drug House Ordinance, property owners are subject to fines if they fail to take appropriate action to abate the problem after 30 days of notification.