- Dec 02
MPD Patrol Officers Shut Down Virginia Avenue Drug House
The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the initiation of their latest case under the city’s innovative “Drug House Ordinance” for the rental property at 727 Virginia Avenue after a drug investigation and search warrant by MPD Patrol Unit officers.
Chief Richards appeared before Martinsburg Chief Magistrate Ella Buckner to obtain an Order of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity documented at the location. The property owner has been identified as Raymond Argyle Downes of Charles Town and found to be in violation of the Drug House Ordinance.
On November 23, 2019 at approximately 2:00 a.m., Patrolwoman Britney Conner responded to a call of “shots fired” at 727 Virginia Avenue. Sergeant Justin Harper and Patrolmen Mike Jones, Dalton Condo, and Michael Roberts also immediately responded to back up their fellow officer.
Arriving on the scene, the officers were told by several residents that an unknown person had fired a shot from the backyard into the kitchen of the residence. During the course of the investigation, the officers observed evidence of illegal drug use and drugs in plain view. They immediately secured the residence while Patrolwoman Conner returned to the station to obtain a search warrant. During the search, additional drugs were found. As a result of their alert observations and quick action, Conner and her fellow officers recovered 114 grams of powder cocaine, 10 grams of marijuana, a digital scale and packaging material used for the distribution of illegal drugs. The Estimated Street Value of the recovered drugs totaled $23,050. Also seized from the drug-selling operation was $1,285 in suspected drug-money.
Placed under arrest was Elliot Wilson, 36, one of the building’s residents who has an extensive criminal history from Baltimore including a felony conviction for Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin. Elliot was taken into custody and charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine.
“This was outstanding policework and individual initiative taken by MPD officers for the betterment of our community. We are continuing to make a difference and make Martinsburg a safer place,” stated Deputy Chief George Swartwood. MPD Chief Maury Richards also recognized the alert observation and quick actions of his officers. “Patrolwoman Conner, Sergeant Harper, and Patrolmen Jones, Condo, and Roberts did an excellent job in quickly responding, observing, and taking decisive action. Thanks to these officers, Martinsburg has one less drug house and one less place for drug dealers to live.”
Raymond Argyle Downes is scheduled to appear before Municipal Judge Dale Buck on January 8, 2020 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.
The Drug House Ordinance is an important component of the Martinsburg Police Department’s community-policing strategy and a highly successful crime reduction and drug-fighting tool. Since its adoption in 2016, MPD has utilized the ordinance to shut down 60 drug houses—reducing repeat calls-for-service at the individual locations by 90%. Crime on the Drug House blocks has also been significantly reduced. Comparing reported crime on the entire blocks of Drug House locations 12 months before enforcement action with the numbers of same types of incidents 12 months after compliance shows a 51% decline in Violent Crime, a 35% drop in Property Crimes, a 52% decrease in Drug-related calls, a 34% reduction in Public Nuisance complaints, and a 54% reduction in Drug Overdoses.
To fight the drug problem, Huntington, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Wheeling, Buckhannon, Charles Town, Nitro, and Elkins have all enacted similar drug house ordinances based on Martinsburg’s.