Blotter | Shooting at homeless encampment; Detectives shut down crime ring trafficking in government benefits

Your weekend blotter updates:

  • A fight led to a shooting at a homeless encampment under the Yesler overpass at 4th Ave and Terrace Street late Saturday night, says the Seattle Police Department. Just before midnight, the 50-year-old victim was involved in an altercation with three other males at the camp. According to SPD:

The victim was striking a subject using a 2X2 board when a reportedly uninvolved male approached and shot him.  The suspect fled the scene on foot.  The victim walked a few feet and collapsed on some bedding in the encampment on the west side of the street.

Seattle Fire responded and transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center with critical injuries.

Homicide and CSI responded and processed the scene.

The investigation continues

  • A team of detectives and members of other agencies working in concert over two weeks shut down a large crime ring accused of trafficking and fraudulent use of government-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer (“EBT”) cards at a S. Jackson Street market. SPD detectives with the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) worked with officers from the East Precinct’s Anti-Crime Team and Community Police Team, the Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Office of Fraud and Accountability and federal agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The investigation involved activities at the Minh Tam Market. SPD’s blotter has more:

On February 19th, 2014 the Major Crimes Task Force executed a total of eight search warrants surrounding two separate trafficking rings, arresting four suspects and seizing over $427,000.00 in U.S. currency located in bank accounts, the suspect store location and the suspect’s home residence.

During the first phase of the investigation, several undercover sales of EBT benefits were sold to a female suspect in her 60’s, who processed transactions at various stores for food items. She then paid undercover officers approximately 50 cents on the dollar for the benefit amount used on the EBT cards. Undercover officers were told by the suspect that the food items that she was purchasing were being resold to other unidentified suspects, who own and run Seattle area restaurants. Those restaurants have not been identified at this time. The female suspect was arrested yesterday but has not been charged yet.

In the second phase of the investigation several additional undercover sales of EBT benefits were sold directly at Minh Tam’s Market, which then gave the undercover officers cash back at the same rate of approximately 50 cents on the dollar. The undercover officer would simply meet up with an associate/employee of the store, walk inside, approach the store clerk and let them know how much of their government issued EBT benefit funds they wished to sell. The store clerk would make the transaction and give the undercover officer approximately half of the cash amount, which the store transferred into their account. In two of the undercover transactions, the associate/employee, who met with the undercover officers and introduced them to the store clerk, also sold the undercover officers suspected rock cocaine as a portion of their food stamp transaction payment.

The suspects in these cases potentially face a multitude of charges including Food Stamp Trafficking and Money Laundering.

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has agreed to open up a case on the suspect(s) with the U.S. Attorney’s Office possibly looking at federal charges as well.

This case is still ongoing and continues to be investigated by the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force along with the USDA and DSHS.


One thought on “Blotter | Shooting at homeless encampment; Detectives shut down crime ring trafficking in government benefits

  1. Simply despicable people. These crimes are well known common and obvious to the observant eye. I’ve also observed persons making rounds to food banks and loading up vehicles with food that is then sold in markets like Mihn Tams. Perhaps not a crime but another example of the lowly behavior some people stoop to. People with money in the bank and nice cars. Through the book at them and then banish from America for life.