Drug agents raided wrong home

Drug agents serving a search warrant during Wednesday's string of methamphetamine raids broke down the door to the wrong address and handcuffed a couple before the mistake was discovered.

Katrina Noah, 20, and Jay Malone, 24, were sleeping in their apartment at 1630 E. Long Street No. 1, when Tri-Net narcotics agents forced open the door, expecting to find 41-year-old Cathy Wurster.

Wurster's residence, however, is located across the street at No. 10, part of the same apartment complex.

"Sure, I was scared. I didn't know what was going on," Noah said Thursday. "I knew they had the wrong place and I kept asking them why they were here, but they didn't answer.

"They treated us like we were major criminals."

Planners of the sting operation admitted the mistake Thursday, saying that the mix-up could have been the result of a clerical error in paperwork or an officer's miscalculation.

"We just got it wrong," said David Hosmer, chief deputy at the Nevada Division of Investigation. "We have a responsibility to make sure we go to the right place, and we didn't."

Hosmer said his department offered to make repairs to their door.

Noah said several officers had flashlights and guns drawn as they made their way through the apartment to the bedroom where the couple was sleeping.

"They basically raided the house with guns and pulled us out of bed," she said. "They handcuffed us and wouldn't say anything."

She added that she didn't have a shirt on because of the heat during the night, and that she was only allowed to put one on after several requests. "I didn't have a shirt on and they wouldn't let me put one on," she said. "I asked three or four times and they finally took the handcuffs off."

The couple's driver's licenses were checked through agency computers and they were cleared as suspects. When officers realized the mistake, they apologized, gave the residents a card and told them to call later in the day to have the door repaired.

"I'm glad they busted those people, but this happens a little too often," Noah said. "It was supposed to be a 10-month investigation; you'd think they can get the address right."

"This is pretty rare," Hosmer said of the task force's mistake. "In the 18 years that I have done this, it has probably only happened once or twice."

During the confusion the couple's beagle was lost, but it was recovered a few hours later by a neighbor who called the owners.

One of the suspects arrested Wednesday was also misidentified to media outlets after the raid.

Gary P. Patellaro Jr., 29, told arresting officers his name was Gary Sabino, Hosmer said. Patellaro was arrested at 1123 Azul Way in Gardnerville.


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