By John K. Wiley
SPOKANE – In what police are calling the biggest drug bust in city history, officers raided a residential apartment complex and detained 23 people.
Spokane Police spokesman Dick Cottam said five were arrested on federal charges and charges were pending against others after the 7-minute raid at the Espanola and Casa Granada apartments Tuesday night.
The apartment manager, Robert N. Butler, 44, and Reginald E. Anderson Jr., 23, made initial court appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base.
Imbrogno ordered the men held pending a Friday bail hearing. If convicted, they would face mandatory sentences of 10 years to life without parole, and up to $4 million in fines.
The raid by 70 law officers – from the Spokane Police Department, FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and Spokane County sheriff’s deputies – marked the end of a months-long undercover operation, Cottam said today.
It was the largest number of officers involved in a drug raid at a single location, he said.
“It’s the first time we’ve taken down an entire apartment complex,” former Police Chief Terry Mangan, now with the FBI, said of the raid.
Butler was a manager of the three-building, 30-apartment complex in Browne’s Addition just west of downtown, FBI Special Agent Andy Caster said in an affidavit. The arrests came after confidential informants had made dozens of crack-cocaine buys since April, the affidavit said.
Neighbors had complained for months about drug sales and prostitution activity near the buildings.
Police seized an undisclosed quantity of drugs and at least one weapon.
The officers served search warrants signed by a federal magistrate for 19 units, including some that were vacant but where drugs were sold to undercover officers, Cottam said.
Separate investigations into illegal activities at the apartments began about four months ago by Spokane police and FBI, and were later combined, FBI agent Egon Dezihan said.
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