Law Enforcement Builds Cases to Bust Drug Houses


Scattered throughout Yelm, drug houses disrupt neighborhoods and provide people access to illegal drugs.

The Yelm Police Department is aware of several of these house within or just outside of the city limits.

Drug houses are considered places where drugs, most commonly heroin, are regularly used and distributed. They can be located anywhere, from the poorest neighborhood to the more upscale, from the downtown core to the end of a country road.

When building a case, law enforcement needs to have the most current data about the amount of traffic in and out of the house, and at what times of day people are coming and for how long each person stays, Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil said. Often, to get that information, police will have an informant who has been in the house and has contact with the people who frequently visit or live there.

“We really need to build what we call probable cause to take action,” Stancil said.

Officer Devon Taylor is the person on duty during the graveyard shift. He will often park down the street from a drug house and finish reports and other paperwork in his car. Sometimes when he doesn’t get a lot of calls he will park down the street from one and just wait.

“It’s like fishing,” he said.

He has received suspicious vehicle calls that have turned out to be him. Neighbors have seen him and called because he has been sitting in front of their house observing a drug house for so long. Sometimes neighbors will come out and talk to him about what they have seen or heard coming from the house.

People who live next to a drug house like Dennis Hugli in Yelm are constantly calling the police about the drug house in their neighborhoods. He said the people in the house are always fighting and arguing so loud it can be heard in other houses.  

Hugli has found several syringes used by the intravenous drug users next door on his property.

He and his neighbors are tired of the drug activity on their block.

“Everyone of these families would like to see it gone,” Hugli said.

Neighbors are encouraged to inform police of suspected drug houses in their neighborhoods, Stancil said. If the house in question is not currently known to them, law enforcement will begin to watch it. Information regarding any suspected drug house known or unknown to them is welcome.

Keeping track of license plate numbers and taking pictures of the various vehicles will go a long way in aiding police, Stancil said.

“If we are familiar with the house already, or the players involved, that could speed things up,” Stancil said.

Taylor is aware of what is going on in these houses and who some of the players are. He works to make sure he has up-to-date information.

Stancil said the Yelm Police Department has monthly meetings with other law enforcement agencies, including both Thurston and Pierce county sheriff offices and the Washington State Patrol, because drug activity regularly crosses into multiple jurisdictions.

If a person is not sure if a drug house is in the city limits they are encouraged to report it to the Yelm Police Department, Stancil said. If it is not in their jurisdiction the information will be shared with the proper law enforcement agency.


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