This weekend the Seattle Police Department, FBI, and US Attorney’s office worked together to arrest 18 suspected gang members from the Central District & South Seattle. The agencies executed search warrants and raids that netted four guns, drugs, two vehicles, and a “sizeable amount” of cash.
The goal of the operation was to disrupt the local gangs and try to suppress the recent spike in violence between gang-involved youth, and was the most recent and visible result of an operation that has been underway since at least last fall.
Two of the suspects arrested are now facing federal charges on conspiracy to distribute BZP, which is a drug similar to ecstasy. According to Vincent Lombardi of the US Attorney’s Office, these suspects are alleged to be large-scale distributors of that drug, and suspected of distributing other narcotics such as esctasy, crack cocaine, and marijuana.
The first suspect, Dimitrius Tinsley, is alleged to be a member of the East Union Street Hustlers gang that often hangs out around 21st & Union. According to charging documents, he first caught the FBI’s attention last December when an FBI agent observed him visiting Donnie Cheatam in the hospital following Cheatam’s wounding in a shooting outside Garfield Community Center. FBI agents then used confidential informants, wired for audio recording, to make controlled buys of drugs and guns from Tinsley on multiple occasions. Court documents allege that Tinsley was known to sell drugs at locations that included 32nd & Union, 27th & Spring, and 20th & Marion.
Tinsley’s last known address was in the 900 block of 23rd Ave, and FBI agents were able to tie a cellphone used to coordinate drug purchases back to a woman who once shared that address with him. Using this information, the FBI got court approval for a wire tap on that cell phone and agents used the information from the tap to track Tinsley’s movements and to coordinate large drug buys of up to 5,000 pills at a time.
The second suspect facing federal charges is Avery Scharer, who once answered Tinsley’s cell phone when a controlled buy was being set up. The FBI informant was later allegedly able to purchase 500 pills from Scharer. He is also alleged to be a Central District gang member, possibly in the Valley Hood Pirus.
Two other suspects wanted by authorities couldn’t be located in the initial set of raids, but authorities found out that they were in Las Vegas and arrested them late last night as they arrived at SeaTac. We’re waiting for charges to be filed on them, and will follow up with more details once that occurs.