SEATTLE - 176 people have died from opioid overdose this year in Seattle, and officials said many of the deaths were from fentanyl.
One person accused of dealing the deadly drug was charged Monday. Investigators said it's one of dozens of drug busts they’ve made in their concentrated effort to secure Third and Pike in downtown Seattle from becoming an "open drug and stolen goods market."
Officials said the intersection is where predators know they can prey on people who are struggling with addiction.
It is where Seattle Police say Christopher Davis was arrested in September with blue fentanyl pills inside a CPR pouch he was carrying. Investigators said they saw him put the pills into a man’s hand before Davis tried to fight off officers during his arrest.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said he joins long list of suspected peddlers busted on those corners.
"Just through August, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office have filed 35 cases of drug dealing just around Third and Pike. And that’s in addition to the other cases at 12th and Jackson and other parts of King County," said spokesperson Casey McNerthney.
McNerthney said the prosecutor’s office is collaborating with law enforcement agencies to address drugs and drug deals across the county. He said the prosecutor’s office credits the Seattle Police Department’s emphasis patrols on Third and Pike in cracking down on the open drug market.
"When we get cases and can prove drug dealers are preying on people, and in many cases giving them drugs that can kill them or do kill them, King County prosecutors are going to keep making those cases a priority and charging them immediately," said McNerthney.
Despite 35 people charged for dealing drugs on Third and Pike, the challenge of addressing drugs on that intersection continue. FOX 13 News captured what appeared to be a drug deal, open drug use and first responders rendering aid to someone—all during the lunch hour.
The issues have staff at Spice King thinking about moving when the lease is up.
"Maybe two or three months, four months. Then after that, we are moving. But we are stuck here," said manager Hema Sharma.
Other store owners in the area are fed up with the criminal activity and its impact on their businesses. The Downtown Seattle Association said: "We urge continued focus on shutting down an established drug market that has fueled addiction, crime and preyed upon vulnerable people in our community. Solving this issue is critical for downtown’s recovery."
Some said there is still hope. Sharma said they are seeing a difference in the area thanks to the emphasis patrols.
"Then after January, we start seeing little bit changes, day by day. Day by day," said Sharma. "I’m thinking we are staying here longer. Otherwise, we are thinking maybe a couple more months we are moving."
Davis’ arrest is the result of Seattle Police Department’s ‘Operation New Day,’ moving its mobile precinct to Third and Pine to stop the open drug and stolen goods market in that area. Davis’ next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12.