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Apartment near Wildrose raided by police
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Apartment near Wildrose raided by police

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

The Seattle Police Department's vice squad raided a unit in a building that houses the Wildrose bar and The Hot House women's spa on Capitol Hill the morning of June 11, arresting more than a dozen people - mostly men - while executing a search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation.

At 12:37 a.m., several police cars and a SWAT vehicle blocked a section of 11th Avenue, just south of E. Pike Street. Police entered the building on the southwest corner of 11th and E. Pike. An officer announced over a loudspeaker that police were there to serve a search warrant.

The Wildrose is a popular Capitol Hill Lesbian bar. The bar rests above The Hot House women's spa, which occupies the basement of the complex. Within the first few minutes of the raid, two men were arrested - including one who had been drinking with friends inside the Wildrose who came outside to see what was going on. According to witnesses on the scene, the man began to walk west on Pike Street, but was taken into custody after police ran after him.

Over the next hour, two women and 13 men were escorted from the basement unit and led away in zip-tie handcuffs. The arrested individuals were loaded onto a bus that was serving as a temporary holding cell.

Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a police spokesman, said, "That was one of the first actions in a lengthy investigation, it's an ongoing deal."

He said the police are not releasing further details about the raid at this point. Whitcomb also said he could not clarify the nature of the search warrant or the arrests as the situation is part of an ongoing investigation and detectives are still processing evidence collected during the raid.

According to Sara Jean Green, a Seattle Times staff reporter, a man on the scene was overheard saying those arrested "were just playing poker."

"I know this is no whore spot and I know it's no crack spot. This is a bit much," he said as he surveyed the scene. The man declined to give his name to the reporter. "People are going to jail - good people with good jobs."

Various media outlets around the city all seem to point towards the same conclusion: illegal gambling.

Information posted on CHS Capitol Seattle Blog said the vice squad bust shut down a secret card room and a saloon that had been operating at 11th and E. Pike for "several years." The information was provided by a former employee of the illegal casino, who asked to remain anonymous citing fears that he will be connected to the activities and arrested. He said he worked at the business, a place late-night gamblers referred to as "the speakeasy." Allegedly the man used to man the door or sliding glass window where would-be gamblers presented the password required to gain entrance. The man refused to identify the owner but did say that customers included a "high-profile DJ" that was among those arrested Thursday morning. The man said he was no longer an employee but continued to frequent the place, just days before the bust.

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