Wednesday, September 1, 2010

3 arrested in drug raid at filthy city house

By Jason A. Kahl, Reading Eagle

Reading police arrested three people and seized a gun and crack cocaine during a raid Wednesday afternoon on a drug house in the 100 block of Greenwich Street, authorities said.

The three-story row house was infested with cockroaches and other bugs, littered with animal feces and flooded in the basement with several inches of sewage, according to investigators from the vice and narcotics unit. Police had to don boots and respirators borrowed from the fire department during the raid at 3.

They also had to call in the Animal Rescue League of Berks County to take a large and aggressive pit bull that was guarding the vestibule of the two-unit apartment building. Several puppies and birds also were in the building.

The following were arrested: Omet Rivera, 21; Joel Davila, 30; and Kristy Peel, 29, all of whom lived there. All were charged with possessing, intending to deliver and delivering crack cocaine and other offenses.

They were awaiting arraignment late Wednesday.

Police also took a 12-year-old boy into custody but later released him to a relative. They said they think he was just visiting.

Police said they had been investigating the property for months after complaints about drug dealing there.

Investigators said they got search warrants from District Judges Michael J. Leonardziak and Gloria W. Stitzel after making numerous drug buys at the house.

State police and Berks County detectives assisted in the raid.

"We caught them by surprise," said Sgt. Damond M. Kloc of the city vice unit. "This couldn't have been accomplished without the help of those other law enforcement agencies."

The city codes office also participated and later placarded the house as uninhabitable.

According to police:

Officers seized a 9 mm handgun and 50 grams of crack cocaine - some bulk and some packaged for street sale - with an estimated value of $5,000. They also seized about $2,000 in cash.

Surveillance cameras trained on the front door were linked to monitors in the upstairs apartment.

The entire building was used for drug sales. Customers would buzz from the door and be let inside to buy drugs in the vestibule.

The property had been a problem for at least a year. Earlier this year, it was operating as a speakeasy.

Then in April, a shooting occurred inside during a robbery attempt. However, no charges were filed because the shooting was ruled justifiable.

Police could not get over the filth they encountered inside.

"We're going in to a place like this because the job needs to be done and our guys are committed," Kloc said. "It was pretty bad in there."

Police said Davila has links to the Latin Kings street gang.

An investigation continues.

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