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Mom discovers meth-tainted apartment in Federal Way
A Federal Way woman is seeking answers after her apartment tested positive for methamphetamine residue.
Upon signing a lease at the Enchanted Woods Apartment Homes last August, Jade Winslow-Fuentez noticed a strong odor akin to cigarette smoke. Management arranged to clean the apartment, she said, but the odor eventually returned.
"They put me in a unit that smelled like an Indian casino," she said.
Shortly after, she and her two children — ages 2 and 16 — began coughing and feeling dizzy. Acting on a hunch, she ordered a home testing kit from methlabcleanup.com, swabbed certain spots in the apartment, then mailed the samples for testing.
The results came back positive for methamphetamine.
Winslow-Fuentez said neighbors had shared stories of the former tenants, and said they may have used meth in the apartment — unit F104.
In response, Guardian Management sent Winslow-Fuentez a letter, saying that the apartment received a "professional inspection" and tested negative for meth. The letter said there were no records of drug use or complaints involving the previous tenants.
Winslow-Fuentez sought a second opinion from Bio Clean Inc., a Lake Stevens business certified by the state Department of Health.
Again, the apartment tested positive for meth.
Theresa Borst, owner and president of Bio Clean, said meth residue is harmful regardless of whether the drug was smoked or manufactured in the apartment.
"The place is contaminated," Borst said, adding that the management's initial claim of negative results is questionable. "There's just no way. … I think that they didn't have the place sampled, and they're just thinking they can make it go away."
Borst has offered to give a free educational presentation to Enchanted Woods residents, but said management has not responded. She added that even if the apartment is cleaned up, meth residue may linger in or behind the walls.
Darren McDonald, senior portfolio manager for Guardian Management, issued a statement in response to the allegations of meth contamination at Enchanted Woods, which is located just outside Federal Way city limits at 2020 S. 360th St.
McDonald said Guardian commissioned a second test of the apartment. This time, the test produced positive results for meth.
"Guardian is contracting with a licensed drug lab decontamination contractor who will clean the unit," according to the statement. "Unfortunately, our initial test proved to be inaccurate. Now that we have verified that illegal drugs were used in the unit, we are proceeding diligently to have it cleaned up."
As of Friday, the apartment remains vacant.
Winslow-Fuentez and her youngest child have since moved in with a friend in Federal Way. Most of her belongings are still in storage, and the ordeal has drained her finances, she said.
Ultimately, she wants to ensure no one else experiences the same problem that put her family at risk.
"This has really turned my life upside down," she said, noting that she had changed her child's diapers on the meth-tainted carpet at the Enchanted Woods apartment. "They just can't get away with hurting children and brushing this under the rug."
(Pictured: Enchanted Woods Apartments, located at 2020 S. 360th St., Federal Way. The complex has a Federal Way address, but is located in unincorporated King County.)