Owner of alleged drug house in North Port arrested

- The homeowner of a place North Port Police called a nuisance drug house was arrested on Friday.

Tandra Knoepke, 41, was charged with a felony of keeping a nuisance structure, possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Knoepke's home at 3360 S San Mateo Drive is well known to police. In the past year, officers have responded to 51 calls at the address, mostly from residents who reported noticing drug activity at the home.

"Cars that would come in, not stay for very long and then leave," said Mike Hatfield, who has lived across the street for 11 years.

He said four years ago, he welcomed Knoepke and her husband when the couple moved into the nearby home.

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"We invited them to come to church, at which time they told us they went to another church," said Hatfield.

As the years passed, he and other neighbors became frustrated with the constant stream of people coming and going from the home late at night and the constant police presence.

"We've had multiple arrests from there," said Josh Taylor, Public Information Officer for North Port Police. "Right now, there are a number of people in the Sarasota County Jail that have that address as their primary residents."

Taylor said investigators learned that the home was a well-known drug house where people often used meth. It took officers months to build a case against Knoepke.

During that time, back in May, officers held a neighborhood cookout at an empty lot right next door to the home to show neighbors, and the occupants, that they're watching the property.

"We're not going away. We've made that commitment to the neighborhood, and we've made that commitment to [the occupants], to try to get them the help that they need. They just don't seem to be getting it," said Taylor.

Taylor said typically, people running drug houses are renters. Officers will reach out to the homeowner, threatening to seize their house if they don't clean up the property.

In this case, investigators said Knoepke doesn't have much to lose. Her home is in foreclosure, according to police officials. Officers plan to continue to closely monitor the property.

"We understand that the residents probably want this nightmare to be over. We're doing everything we can within the law," said Taylor.

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