Unsafe wiring. Raw sewage. A 5-year-old living in filth with more than two dozen people.
That's what Alameda County sheriff's investigators say they found during a predawn raid at a building investigators say had been turned into an illegal casino.
"There's some very unsanitary and unsafe conditions in there," said sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly. "Just the smell alone is enough to make you leave that place."
The raid began at 4 a.m. and included deputies from the SWAT team, clad in camouflage. Deputies found 28 people apparently squatting inside the vacant building at 67th and Bancroft avenues in East Oakland.
Investigators arrested 20 of those people on various charges and seized guns, drugs and slot machines. The child was removed by Child Protective Services, and the building was red-tagged by the city.
"I'll call this a victory, because this was a recipe for disaster here, that was averted," Kelly said.
KTVU cameras got a look inside.
Kelly pointed to a crawl-space. "Somebody was living up there in that," he said. "There's a bed and a ladder up there.
Someone had put plexiglass and mirrored acrylic sh
eets on the the storefronts. "So if you're inside, you can see out,but nobody can see in," Kelly said.
He also pointed to wiring on the side of the building. Extension cords could be seen emerging from windows.
"You don't need to be an electrician to see here that this wiring is very hastily done," Kelly said. "It's not safe. It's obviously not up to code."
The property manager told KTVU this was all a surprise to her.
"Very shocked, because I had no idea this was running here," said Nancy Ta.
Officials say like the Ghost Ship warehouse, where 36 people died in a fire in Oakland's Fruitvale District, this is another example of supposedly vacant buildings being used for something else.
"We need to be out there, going through, inspecting these buildings to make sure that they're vacant," said Oakland City Council President Larry Reid.
Councilmember Larry Reid said, "It sounds like action needed to be taken, and action should have been taken and I'm glad it was. But I believe those situations are the exception, and not the rule."