HAZLETON -- The recent rash of crime in Hazleton prompted a call for more citizen participation in neighborhood crime watch groups. Police said the work of one such group led to Friday's arrests.
After years of hearing about problems at a house on Pine Tree Road in Hazleton, police finally made their move. Inside, they discovered a haven for drugs.
"Officers were actually able to observe a drug deal while we're ready to serve a drug search warrant outside the house," said Chief Frank DeAndrea, of Hazleton Police.
Police took six people into custody and later arrested five of them on drug charges. The bust was a long time coming, according to neighbors who didn't want to be identified.
"Were you happy to see this happen today?" Newswatch 16 asked a neighbor.
"Yes, about time," said the neighbor.
The neighborhood crime watch group in the Birch Knoll Estates development has been watching the house closely for years.
"He goes out til all hours of the night, him and his partner, and they sit and they watch and they take notice to what's going on," said a neighbor.
Police said the crime watch group helped them build their case. The raid led to the arrests of James Davis, Tiffany Davis, William Guervara, Nelson Rincon and Jhonatha Alejo Troncoso.
Neighbors said they've seen people coming in and out of this house for years, day and night, hopping the fence and crawling under another house to go back and forth to this house on the other side of the development.
"There's people running through the back of the yard, all dressed in black. Then I heard a door being kicked in."
Inside the home, police said they found heroin, a crack pipe, and cash. Police then condemned the home. They call this is the first of many homes they hope to crack down on as part of a new stronger stance on nuisance properties.
"Thank God this happened today. I feel a little bit better," said a neighbor.
The five people arrested on drug charges were taken to the Magistrate's office for their arraignment.