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Hundreds of investigators search three motels on Tukwila boulevard in drug, prostitution probe
UPDATE: Displaced residents from the seized motels were offered transportation to a church, where they will be fed and offered medical and mental-health services and assistance with housing and other needs from City of Tukwila departments and other local, state and federal agencies. The City of Tukwila will provide qualified low-income residents with vouchers for groceries and transportation.
Hundreds of investigators descended on three motels on Tukwila International Boulevard early Tuesday morning, the culmination of a year-long investigation into drug and prostitution activity.
Arrests have been made, but a number wasn't immediately available.
The search warrants were served at the Great Bear Motor Inn, the Boulevard Motel and the Travelers Choice on or near Tukwila International Boulevard near South 144th Street.
The highway was closed northbound between South 144th Street and South 146th Street at about 4 a.m. for the operation, but traffic is still getting by slowly in both directions on the highway. Traffic delays will occur through mid-afternoon.
Everyone in the three motels, including employees and customers or long-term residents, were being questioned before they were allowed to leave, according to Tukwila Police Commander Eric Drever. Social service agencies were brought in to help residents find new housing as the motels were shuttered
The motels are now in federal possession and will be disposed of under a property forfeiture process.
Investigators from Tukwila Police, other local police agencies, including Renton, Kent, Auburn and Federal Way, and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Marshal's Office and Homeland Security, are going room to room in the motels, searching for evidence.
The number of investigators is needed because of the "sheer quantity of rooms that are being entered," said Drever.
And, Drever said, "we want to make sure we have enough people to deal with the unknown."
The number of people involved in the year-long investigation exceeded 400, Drever said.
Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton and U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan will hold a briefing at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Tukwila Community Center to provide more details. Haggerton was briefed at the operation late in the morning.
The City of Tukwila is in the process of buying the motels and other businesses through condemnation along that part of the Tukwila International Boulevard, which is at the site of the new Tukwila Village.