More then 50 people are facing gun and drug charges in federal and county court following a three-month undercover operation by federal and local law enforcement in White Center, just outside of Seattle.
King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said it was “remarkably easy [for agents] to obtain guns and drugs,” and that guns were “passed around like currency” in the neighborhood.
In the operation ,dubbed “Center of Attention” (ugh), authorities targeted the drug market in White Center—which has been plagued by gun and gang violence—ultimately seizing 68 firearms, 51 pounds of meth, two pounds of crack, and ten pounds of cocaine in sweeps across the neighborhood.
At a press conference Friday morning, handguns, shotguns and scoped rifles were piled next to bags of drugs on long tables, surrounded by armed agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, as well as representatives from the US Attorney’s office, King County Sheriff’s office, Department of Corrections, and Seattle police.
Authorities say the aim of the operation—which focused on an area from SW Juneau in West Seattle to SW 136th in White Center, between Boulevard Park and High Point—was to get guns out of felons’ hands and get drugs off the streets. Undercover agents were able to buy 22 pounds of meth in one deal alone.
Much of the drug and gun dealing apparently centered around two bars—identified by law enforcement sources yesterday as DK’s and Papa’s Pub—but it’s unclear whether the owners were involved, or were simply had their businesses commandeered by criminals.
Authorities are investigating two other businesses, a nail salon and massage parlor, for promoting prostitution.
Authorities are now talking to property owners about problems at the businesses, and could seize the properties if the owners don’t work to clean them up.
After authorities finished showing off all the hardware seized in operation at today’s press conference, a pastor from a White Center church spoke up and asked whether any changes brought to the neighborhood by the operation would actually be sustainable, as other anti-crime task forces have apparently come and gone from the neighborhood, without making a lasting him impact.
Satterberg addressed the issue after the press conference, saying “nobody thinks they can do one operation and walk away.”
Law enforcement is planning on meeting with the community in White Center next week to talk about the operation, and where it all goes from here.
We’re working to get charging documents and will have more details later today and early next week as charges are filed.