Search warrant leads investigators to filthy westside camp, 16 detained

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Search warrant leads investigators to filthy westside camp, 16 detained

By Cory Marshall. CREATED Aug 8, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It started as a search warrant and turned into a full-blown investigation. Friday morning, the Pima Regional SWAT Team, alongside Pima County Sheriff's Department investigators, found 16 people living on a west-side property, among piles of trash, dilapidated trailers and gutted buses filled with who knows what. The property is located on the 6300 block of S. Camino de Oeste in the middle of a small neighborhood near Valencia Road.

Deputies detained all 16 people for questioning. Investigators say drugs, possibly methamphetamine, were also found on the property. Stacks of torn mattresses, a wall of rubber tires, towering piles of clothes and at least five dogs wandering the lot were also visible.

The search warrant comes in response to community members making calls to law enforcement for months -- reporting heavy traffic and possible drug activity. According to PCSD, in the last year, deputies have responded to the property 17 times.

"So, it's not always that we go to calls and respond and then walk away from it, respond and walk away from it [and] do so over and over again. At some point, obviously,  we need to take a closer look in order to ensure the safety and security of the community  [and] of the surrounding neighborhood," PCSD Deputy Tom Peine told 9OYS.

Contradictory to community complaints, one longtime west-side resident told 9OYS she has never had any run-ins with the mystery neighbors or a reason to call law enforcement," Yeah, I knew there was a lot of people living over there. They all say they don't live there but they never go away." Other nearby residents, who did not want to go on camera, said they have been aware of the "suspicious property" for a long time.