by: Amy Clancy Updated:
KENT, Wash. - Within minutes of parking an unmarked news vehicle and pointing a hidden camera toward Un Nuevo Estilo on Pacific Highway South in Kent, KIRO 7 photographer Katie McDowell recorded what appeared to be a drug deal, even to the expert. Reporter Amy Clancy showed the video to an undercover Kent police detective less than an hour later.
Clancy: "What does that look like to you?"
Kent PD Detective: “Looks like a hand-to-hand transaction inside the store.”
The detective with Kent’s Special Investigations Unit has been secretly recording and watching the same two businesses for a year, ever since sources told police about what they called rampant drug dealing at Muebles furniture store and El Collegio beauty college, including allegations that illegal narcotics were being bought and sold at the side-by-side businesses.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” the detective told Clancy. “In one hour, on one occasion, we counted about six or seven hand to hand transactions,” he said.
Search warrants were recently served on Ana Torres and her son, Jose Trejo. Inside his furniture store and her beauty college, police found evidence of drug distribution. According to investigators, the apparently brisk mattress business is actually a front for dealing drugs.
Clancy: "Are they doing enough legitimate business to support themselves?"
Detective: “No, I do not believe so.”
Clancy: "So, how are they supporting themselves?"
Detective: “Sales of narcotics.”
When investigators searched nearby storage units rented by the mother-son pair and searched Trejo's vehicle, they found 155.4 grams of cocaine, 27.6 grams of methamphetamine and marijuana. Sources told police that Trejo often hid the cocaine, meth and sometimes large amounts of marijuana inside mattresses then would sell the mattresses at the Star-Lite Swap Meet in Lakewood.
The 36-year-old Trejo and his mother have both been arrested. He's been charged with three counts of delivering cocaine and meth. Criminal charges against Torres are pending, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Both are currently out of jail; that's how the KIRO 7 hidden camera caught them both apparently back at “work” on Pacific Highway South. Both have also faced similar allegations before. In 2009, Torres and Trejo were arrested by the Tacoma Police Department for dealing illegal drugs.
Which is why Kent’s undercover detective isn't surprised that Trejo and Torres seem to be back in the illegal drug business.
Clancy: "Do you believe that he, despite his arrest and his criminal charge, is continuing to deal drugs?"
Detective: “I believe he will, yes.”
If Trejo is again dealing drugs, police could put him back in jail for violating his terms of release from jail. He and his mother could also face additional criminal charges.
Trejo’s attorney, John Crowley of The Crowley Law Firm in Seattle, declined to be interviewed.
Trejo’s trial is still months away, according to the prosecutor handling the case.