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April 9, 2013

Tenant IDs snag Essex drug house probe

ESSEX — More than a week after substantial amounts of drugs and drug manufacturing equipment was seized from a house on Water Street, police have not filed any charges in the case and are still trying to identify who may have been in the vacated house at the time.

Police Chief Peter Silva reiterated Monday that the house and adjoining garage on 26 Water St. was not a methamphetamine lab, as initially reported to police, although substantial amounts of drugs and equipment was taken from the property.

Silva said the site may have been a marijuana growing operation, but there are many aspects and sides to the investigation.

“(There was) very heavy drug activity going on,” he said.

The Essex Police Department is continuing to work cooperatively with state and federal officials, but the investigation is still within the town’s department, Silva said.

Silva confirmed that, while there are many aspects and details to the case, one roadblock has been identifying the tenants of the vacant house or who was inside at the time of the raid.

“We’re turning over every stone that we can,” he said.

The Salem Registry of Deeds listed Kenneth A. Britner and David F. Killam as mortgage holders, and indicates that they had paid off the house in 2003. Neither Britner nor Killam could be reached for comment on the story Monday.

It was March 30 that Essex police received a phone call alerting them of possible drug manufacturing on the Water Street property. Local police, firefighters, state police, as well as federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms all responded to the scene as the road in the residential neighborhood was closed.

A regional hazardous material team was also dispatched to the scene last week, as chemicals used in drug manufacturing can be volatile and possibly explosive, Siklva said. He added, however, that there was no imminent risk of volatile chemicals at the time, or since.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at

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