By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Two West Valley drug houses shut down

Agents with search warrants seized drugs, packaging material, scales and sales records, all associated with methamphetamine trafficking, at two locations. They also arrested three alleged dealers and a parole violator.

Detectives began working the cases about a month ago, after neighbors of the houses expressed concern to the sheriff’s office about high traffic volume and excessive late night activity.

Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree, who doubles as the YCINT chair, said neighborhood quality of life issues are a major concern with the drug team.

“We’ll get tips, and sometimes they have to be taken for what they’re worth,” said Capt. Tim Svenson. “Maybe they’re from an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, or from an ex-husband or wife.

“Not all the tips we receive materialize into something good. But this time, the drug team got good information from several neighbors who were concerned.”

Arrested were:

n Michael Edward Ford, 35, and Heidi Kathleen Hicinbothom, 44 of 498 S.E. Jackson St., Willamina, on one count each of delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $17,500 for each.

n Lonnie Ray Dement Jr., 36, of 258 E. Main St., Sheridan, on one count each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and frequenting a place where a controlled substance is used. Bail was set at $22,500.

n Ali Janelle Sweatland, 38, of 710 S.W. Alicia St., Sheridan, for violation on her probation on a charge of custodial interference. She is being held without bail.

The warrants were served at the Jackson Street address in Willamina and the Main Street address in Sheridan — both alleged drug house sites.

“Criminals who infringe on other people’s right to peaceful living need to be dealt with,” Crabtree said. “These types of houses breed criminal activity, which eventually leads to thefts, burglaries and other property crimes. Information from citizens and West Valley deputies assisted in giving YCINT the information they needed to shut these two houses down.”

Sevnson said the recent trend is for increasing numbers of people to come forward with information.

Often, he said, they’re even willing to be named in an affidavit. They are that serious about it.

“A lot of citizens, they’re tired of this activity,” he said. “They want to put their foot down. They’ll do whatever it is they need to do.”

In this case, Svenson said, the drug team dedicated resources in an area where neighborhoods had expressed concern.

“Their hard work paid off,” he said. “They shut down two houses.”

However, the drug team’s work is never done, Svenson said.

“We dedicate time and energy to a certain area, putting those fires out, and then people end up relocating somewhere else,” he said. “Our drug team does a good job to mitigate problems as much as possible.

“They follow people, trying to convince them that it’s not in their best interest to remain in the county. But some people choose to take this route over other means of securing income, so it’s a neverending battle for us.”

The drug team was assisted in the West Valley raids by the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office, McMinnville Police Department, Oregon State Police and the Lincoln County Interagency Narcotics Team.

Anyone with information on this case or other suspected drug activity is asked to contact Sgt. Chris Ray at 503-434-7506.

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