PORT ANGELES — The Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Team arrested a resident of the Tempest permanent-supportive housing apartments in Port Angeles on Wednesday — just days before the program ends — after a several-months-long investigation into the sales of drugs at the site.
Teri Jean Gelseth of Port Angeles, 37, was booked into the Clallam County jail for investigation of delivery of a controlled substance and is expected to make an initial appearance in Clallam County Superior Court today.
Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said Gelseth recently — on separate occasions — sold a gram and two grams of meth to an informant.
When detectives searched her apartment at the Tempest, 112 N. Albert St., they found drug paraphernalia and small amounts of meth, they said.
OPNET’s arrest of Gelseth is just the most recent in a series of arrests that began in late August after the culmination of a several-month-long investigation into many alleged street-level dealers around Port Angeles.
“Tempest … if you look at the calls for service from citizens that are fed up with that drug activity, there comes a time … that we really need to bring it to the street level,” King said.
King said more arrests are expected in the coming weeks.
“The goal is to try to rattle the confidence of the drug culture, those people who are responsible for peddling poison in our communities and let them know they are being watched,” King said.
“The agencies that operate on the [North Olympic] Peninsula … are working together with a coordinated effort with the mission of disrupting and dismantling the free flow of drugs on our street.”
The Tempest is a taxpayer-funded permanent-supportive housing program owned and operated by Serenity House of Clallam County. Serenity House notified residents in July that the facility would be closing and they must be out of their units no later than 11:59 p.m. this Monday.
Serenity House director Doc Robinson said he couldn’t comment on any specific residents, but that he was pleased to see police “take a more active role.”
“We’ve got to get a handle on this,” Robinson said. “I’m not the police, I’m not the courts and I’m not a drug counselor, but we’ve got to get a handle on this.”
The closure of The Tempest is due to high crime rates and increasing amounts of damage to the building that have made the program unsustainable, Robinson said. Police have been there more than 300 times in the past two years.
A Port Angeles man was recently convicted of causing an explosion at the Tempest that forced residents to evacuate in June.
Robinson said that four people are still living at the Tempest, which has 13 units. Two units are vacant.
One person is staying at the night-by-night shelter after the person’s unit was condemned.
One person is staying with friends and another — John Harold Hann — awaits sentencing.
One person has been placed in permanent housing and three people are staying at Serenity House’s long-term shelter and have permanent units waiting for them, he said.
“Everyone is accounted for in the process and we’re slowly moving toward zero,” Robinson said.
He said Serenity House intends to apply for a federal Housing Preservation Grant that would be used to repair the Tempest and transform it into permanent housing — as opposed to permanent-supportive housing.
Robinson said that if the grant is approved, the Tempest would become a facility much like Evergreen Family Village.
He said it’s voucher-based housing and that “there’s not a lot of case management.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].