MPD Shuts Down W. King Street Drug House—Third Violation for D.C. Landlord

  • MPD Shuts Down W. King Street Drug House—Third Violation for D.C. Landlord

    MPD Shuts Down W. King Street Drug House—Third Violation for D.C. Landlord

    The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the initiation of another case under the city’s “Drug House Ordinance” for the rental property at 311 ½ W. King Street, after a recent investigation and search warrant by the Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force revealed Apartment 5 at this location to be the source of a major heroin distribution operation. This is the third time that the Drug Ordinance has been invoked for the West King Street property, a fact that Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards described as, “absolutely outrageous and unacceptable.”

    Chief Richards appeared before Martinsburg Chief Magistrate Ella Buckner to obtain an Order of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity documented at the King Street location. The owner of the rental property has been identified as Yuen Kim Yee of Washington, D.C. and found to be in violation of the Drug House Ordinance. The property is managed by Ms. Yee’s son, William Brown, IV.

    Michael White, 57, a resident of 311 ½ W. King Street Apartment 5, had been observed by Task Force officers as conducting illegal drug sales coming out of the apartment. On February 13, 2019, White was arrested by MPD Patrolman Bill Staub at the Mid-Town 7-11 on a warrant for Distribution of Heroin. Shortly after White’s arrest, Task Force and MPD officers executed a search warrant at his King Street apartment and found the apartment’s tenant, Kimberly Allen, 55, inside. The search revealed evidence of crack cocaine use and .75 grams of methamphetamine. Allen was arrested by Canine Unit Officer Ryan Fritz and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine.

    Last week’s Drug House violation at 311 ½ West King Street is the latest in a series of significant illegal drug activity at that location, documented by search warrants, felony arrests, the recovery of large quantities of illegal drugs, and seizure of thousands of dollars of suspect drug-money.

    On June 26, 2017, Patrolman Marc Loretta obtained a search warrant (also for Apartment 5) which resulted in two arrests, the recovery of 262 grams of heroin, 84 grams of crack cocaine, and the seizure of $4,000 in suspect drug-money. The recovered drugs had an estimated street value of $69,000.

    On February 10, 2018, MPD Corporals Justin Harper and Andrew Garcia obtained a search warrant for Apartment 1 in the same King Street building which resulted in two more felony arrests and the recovery of 30 grams of powder cocaine and 6 grams of crack cocaine with a total estimated street value of $7,200. MPD officers also seized $362 in suspect drug-money and learned that the kitchen in the apartment had been the source of an extensive crack cocaine manufacturing operation.

    Police records show that during the past 24 months, the property has been the source of 20 calls for police service including reports of shots fired, burglaries, thefts, assaults, domestic disturbances, suspected drug activity, noise disturbances, vagrants trespassing, and missing juveniles.

    MPD Chief Maury Richards described the Drug House violations at 311 ½ W. King Street as, “the worst we have seen so far.” “It’s absolutely outrageous and unacceptable,” declared Richards. “This is the first landlord with three drug house violations on the same property. Just look at the history—three drug search warrants and Drug House violations, six arrests, $76,000 in recovered heroin and cocaine, batches of crack cocaine being cooked in a kitchen, and repeated call-after-call-after-call. Can anybody tell me how it’s possible for a responsible landlord or property manager to not know what kind of problems they have? We’ve met with Mr. Brown before regarding his past violations but the trouble just keeps coming back. It’s clear to me that he doesn’t care about who he rents to or what’s going on inside his property.”

    Deputy Chief George Swartwood stated, “This incident is a three-time repeat offense at the same address, with two of them out of the same apartment. Serious action must be taken to correct this once and for all.”

    Yee and Brown are scheduled to appear before Municipal Judge Dale Buck on March 13, 2019 to provide evidence that they have complied with the Chief Magistrate’s order to clean up the drug problem on their property and prevent it from recurring in the future.

    As part of the Martinsburg Police Department’s community-policing strategy, the Drug House Ordinance is a powerful drug-fighting tool. Since its adoption in April, 2016, MPD has utilized the ordinance to shut down 42 drug houses. Repeat calls-for-service at these locations have been reduced by 90%. Huntington, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, and Fairmont, 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. The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property.