Seattle getting more aggressive clearing homeless camps after a significant drug bust last week

Seattle appears to be getting a little more aggressive with the clearing of tent camps after a drug bust at two camps last week. The city’s “Navigation Team” is clearing one today over concern about the amount of trash it has been generating. King 5 news reports:

Seattle’s Navigation Team, comprised of police, outreach workers and clean-up crews, began removing homeless encampments along the north side of Dearborn Avenue South between I-5 and 13th Avenue South on Monday.

Will Lemke, spokesperson for the Navigation Team, said the cleanup would be a multi-day process, and teams would remove the camps over the course of this week…

“We’ve been servicing this area with trash pickup, with litter picks, trying to keep trash down,” Lemke said. “However, we saw this place continue to experience a lot of negative impacts from trash.”

Another factor which was the major drug bust which took place last week. Two different drug rings, with no apparent connection, were selling drugs out of separate homeless camps. From the Seattle Times:

Police arrested 10 people in connection with drugs rings in two Seattle homeless encampments that appeared to operate out of nearby residences, including a home in Beacon Hill and an apartment in the International District.

Investigators do not believe the two drug networks — one related to a row of tents in the 200 block of Washington Street in Pioneer Square, the other connected to a large encampment at 10th Avenue South and South Dearborn — are connected to each other.

Police published a statement about what was found in the bust, including weapons, cash and a pound of crack:

Real and fake firearms. Knives, machetes and a sword. Stolen purses, tablets, cell phones, watches, clothing, and perfume. Over $20,000 in cash. And drugs. Nearly a pound of crack cocaine, plus varying quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and pills. These items and more comprise the myriad evidence detectives will be poring over and cataloging as they build criminal cases against ten people arrested today associated with predatory drug dealing and behavior at encampments located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and Chinatown/International District neighborhoods.

The Pioneer Square area was completely cleared out after the drug busts, but by the following day new tents had popped up. KOMO News interviewed a woman who works in the building behind the camp. She offered a prediction: “In a few days, it’ll be back again.” Down the block, the owner of Main Street Gyros says things have gotten so dangerous he may be closing his business soon:

At the south end of the sidewalk Hamza Albadan, who owns Main Street Gyros, said he’s at his wits’ end.

“Yesterday we called the police how many times? Maybe 10 times they’re blocking the sidewalk, people are shooting up drugs every one,” Albadan said…

“The good homeless – they are in a bad, bad situation. They lost their house, they don’t want to be homeless but they are homeless,” Albadan said. “The bad homeless – they are selling the drugs, they are dealing the drugs, they are holding knives, that’s the dangerous homeless. No one can talk to them, they don’t want help.”

Albadan said he’s given his landlord an ultimatum – if things don’t get better he’s closing down.

There’s a video report from KOMO which doesn’t want to embed so you’ll have to click here for that. Maybe authorities are finally starting to get the message that some of these people are criminals who are harming the city. It has often been said that you can’t arrest your way out of Seattle’s homeless problem. That’s true but you also can’t ignore ongoing criminal behavior and expect things to improve.