Federal agents, assisted by the Knoxville Police Department, are conducting a raid at several businesses at Downtown Knoxville's Market Square. According to witnesses, the operation began sometime before 9:00 AM this morning.
Law enforcement officials were observed at the Preservation Pub, Oodles, and the World Grotto. They were removing what appeared to be boxes of records and at least one computer from the Preservation Pub. The items were loaded onto a large rental truck.
Occupants of residential spaces above the businesses were also asked to leave and were not being let back in. KPD officers were stationed at the entrances of the businesses.
There is no word at this time on what is being investigated. Witnesses reported that there are "multiple federal agencies" involved. Agents from the DEA and the U.S. Treasury Criminal Investigation unit were observed at the scene.
Market Square merchants expressed concern about what it would mean for business if these popular establishments, which attract large numbers of visitors to the Square, were shut down.
UPDATE: WATE has this, and KNS files this report, which does not mention the World Grotto as being involved, and says that the Preservation Pub was open for business late this afternoon. The KNS report says the agents were executing a warrant for the businesses and residence of Scott and Bernadette West.
UPDATE: WBIR reported on their evening newscast that Scott West has been arrested. No other information is available at this time.
UPDATE: The KNS is now reporting that Scott West has surrendered to federal authorities on charges related to marijuana and money laundering.
UPDATE: For the latest, see the Monday morning roundup.
More photos after the jump...
(All photos Copyright (C) 2006, R. Neal)
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