San Diego

City Busts Clairemont ‘Drug House' After Repeated Health Violations

Officers found white crystalline substances, scales and a black tar substance, the case said.

The City of San Diego filed a complaint in October about the health and safety of a suspected drug house in Clairemont and neighbors said they were not surprised.

James Barton owns the “substandard property” at 2610 Arnott Street that city attorneys said is a “threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the public and its occupants.” The complaint includes citations for electrical violations, empty and loaded needles, and dead mice.

The City first became aware of the reportedly problematic house in April 2018 when San Diego Police reported the house was associated with a Drug Abatement Response Team (DART), according to the court case.

In October 2018, the City told Barton to fix the violations, but two months later during a surprise visit, inspectors found the same problems including rooms full of trash, drug paraphernalia and an infestation of vermin, the case said.

In March 2019, Barton told SDPD Officer Nathan Parga that he did not know who was living at his house because he claimed had been in the hospital for two weeks, according to the case. They discussed the group of people using narcotics and living at his house, but Barton said his “current medical condition” prevented him from evicting them.

Later on Oct. 21, San Diego Police arrested six people, four men and two women, for various crimes such as outstanding warrants and being under the influence of controlled substances, city attorneys said.

That same day, officers found white crystalline substances, scales and a black tar substance, the case said.

Neighbor Taylor Akers said the area is mostly families with children and older people so the home stuck out. Akers was new to the neighborhood and even she knew of the man accused of operating the drug house.

“We did have [U.S.] marshals come to our house at one point and asked us for a wanted fugitive that was living there,” Akers told NBC 7.

One man who claimed he lived at the 2610 Arnott Street and did not want to be identified said, “That was a friend of mine that I told you [inaudible]. It was him. They got him."

"This might be the wrong neighborhood, but they make this house out to be the hub of the Sinaloa Cartel or some s#%t."

The man seemed to be aware the house was considered a “drug house.”

“Of course there’s drugs used here, but they’re not like sold here,” he said.

He said he figures he'll have to move out in a couple days as the City prepares to take over the home in the coming week.

With the city stepping in, neighbors said they hope the place will have a shot at becoming a home soon.

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