TUKWILA, Wash. -- Dozens of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies conducted a massive drug and prostitution raid at three motels along Highway 99 in Tukwila early Tuesday morning. The raids followed a year-long investigation into the motels that were known to host all kinds of illegal activities including rape, robbery, assault, drug trafficking and prostitution.
Agents arrested several people including three men believed to be the owners of the Great Bear Motor Inn, Boulevard Motel, and Travellers' Choice Motel along Tukwila International Boulevard.
Tukwila police say the motels are so well known to police, criminal activity had accounted for 17 percent of the calls they received in 2011 and 2012. Crimes to which police responded at the three motels included rape, robbery, assault, drug transactions, gun crimes, prostitution and possession of stolen property, officials said.
In addition, three dead bodies were found in the Travelers Choice Motel between 2009 and 2013, with evidence of drug use in all three cases. Two bodies were found at the Boulevard Motel during the same period.
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan says the motel owners not only permitted it but participated in it.
"If you wanted a certain kind of drug you could go to room X. If you wanted a certain sexual activity go to a different room, and they would just take a cut," said Durkan.
Owners and managers of the motels would collect a $10 entry fee to people coming on the property seeking drugs or sex, according to a criminal complaint. The owners and managers would then direct the person to rooms, and in some instances the owners would collect another fee from the sex worker or dealer, authorities allege.
Authorities boarded up the motels Tuesday and arrested the owner-operators. So far seven people are in custody, and police are not ruling out more arrests.
Residents displaced by the seized motels were offered transportation to a nearby church, where they will be offered medical and mental health services, and assistance with housing needs.
Police are also helping those who may have been exploited for sex and are investigating whether there was human trafficking involved.
“It’s about time they’ve done something here,” said neighbor Don Owens. “This is terrible. You can’t come out of your house without seeing condoms on the ground. People doing dates all up and down the road. And it’s dangerous. My wife went to the store and one of the guys came around and said, ‘Hey. You working?’”
Some 400 personnel from the King County Sheriff's Office, FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the year-long investigation.
Officers say residents can expect to see heavy police presence on Tukwila International Boulevard at South 144th Street for the next 72 hours. Officers were still serving search warrants on each of the motel rooms, gathering evidence, then shutting off the power and water. Once their investigation is complete, they'll board up the motels, which could take several days.
KING 5's Meg Coyle and Teresa Yuan contributed to this report.