Drug enforcement officers arrested a 37-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man Thursday night at a residence they say is the first crack house they've identified in the city.
Police Chief Ron Olin today said authorities think the man who was arrested, Eddie R. Clark, is one of two people selling crack cocaine at a residence at 217 Ill. Other arrests are expected, Olin said.
Olin said this is the first crack house operation law enforcement officials have found within the city, and he's concerned that drug dealers from larger cities may see Lawrence as a feeding ground for crack cocaine, a potent crystal form of cocaine that is smoked.
"To me it means that someone out of the city considers this city ripe for business,'' Olin said.
Olin defined a crack house as a residence used for the sole purpose of trafficking in crack cocaine.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Drug Enforcement Unit began its investigation as a result of reports of unusual activity and the large amount of traffic coming in and out of the residence.
After a two-month investigation, in which several suspects were identified, DEU investigators, Lawrence police officers and sheriff's deputies obtained a warrant and searched the residence about 3:10 a.m. Wednesday, when officers found a small amount of crack cocaine, Olin said.
No one was in the house at the time of the search, he said.
On Thursday night, officers received a report that five people were moving furniture and other household items out of the residence.
DEU officers investigated the report, and Clark was arrested on charges of selling cocaine about 10:30 p.m. No drugs were found at that time.
Olin said the arrest was made without incident. He warned, however, that some of the people targeted in the investigation may be violent.
The four other individuals moving items out of the house were interviewed and later released. Lawrence police and Douglas County sheriff's officers also were at the scene.
The red, frame house is across the street to the west of the city's water treatment plant.
A man who lives in the neighborhood said this morning that he was wary of the occupants of the house at 217 Ill.
"I noticed strange behavior, but I was more suspicious of thievery than of drugs," said the man, who added that his suspicions were "nothing I could substantiate."
He said he thought the occupants had been living in the home for about two months and that since they moved in, several items had been stolen from his property.
He said he often saw the occupants walking around the neighborhood and "coming, going, hanging out."
Another resident of the area said she had absolutely no idea that drugs were being sold on her block.
"You're kidding," she said when told about the arrest. "Oh my lord, I didn't know.
"I think that's awful."
It was unclear whether the suspect was renting the house, but according to the Douglas County Register of Deeds the owner of the house is Donna L. Matthew, Marysville.
No other arrests had been made this morning, but Olin said "we hope to have more arrests as this investigation continues."
Olin said DEU officers have not been working with Kansas City, Mo., authorities. However, he said, they have exchanged information about the case.
Olin declined to elaborate about that information.
Clark was booked into the Douglas County Jail shortly after midnight Thursday and remained there this morning without bond. He is scheduled to make a first appearance in Douglas County District Court at 4 p.m. today.