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"We Buy Meth Houses" signs turning heads, violating ordinances around the Valley

Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 05, 2019

Some signs are causing quite a stir across the east Valley.

Yellow house flipping ads, stuck into the ground, specifically soliciting "meth houses." Over the past month, hundreds have popped up at intersections all over Mesa, Apache Junction, and Queen Creek.

The man behind the signs is named Nate. Nate does not want his last name made public for fear of harassment or potential fines from different cities.

"We help people flip homes, and we clean up neighborhoods," said Nate, who believes his business is beneficial to the community.

He says the idea stemmed from a recent incident that a Valley grandmother experienced.

"The grandson was in the back cooking meth. So she didn't really know what was really going on until he blew up the back of the room," Nate said.

Nate flipped that meth home a few months back, then had an idea.

"You kind of have to stand out," he said.

So he printed out signs that said: "We Buy Meth Houses." Nate even made sure the slang term for the illegal drug was in red ink.

The signs were quickly posted in neighborhood groups and became the discussion at stoplights.

"I saw that yesterday," said one person in Apache Junction, visiting from Minnesota.

"I've taken a picture of them," said Tyrel Garcia, a Mesa mom who lives a block away from two signs.

"Yeah, I've seen them out a couple of different places," said David Gould, another Apache Junction resident.

Nate's signs have not always been well received.

"Initially, all I got were prank calls. Some joker was saying he wants to sell his house with meth for an ounce of heroin," he said. "People will just pick them up and throw them away because they don’t like seeing them. It’s a numbers game."

The City of Mesa is also involved in trashing the signs.

"We take them and throw them away," said Lt. Ryan Russell, the Code Compliance Administrator for the City of Mesa.

Since the signs are not political, and in season, and Nate does not own the land he is placing them on, the practice is an ordinance violation.

"I believe it's a $250 fine for the first offense," said Lt. Russell. "You could also be trespassing on private property when you are putting up those signs."

"I got to pay a fine? But that's not gonna stop me from doing what I'm doing," said Nate.

Both parties know the violations are rarely handed out.

"These individuals go and put the signs up in the middle of the night, and we don’t have the code compliance officers. We’re not a 24-7 operation. So it’s difficult for us to catch them," said Lt. Russell.

"We put them out in the middle of the night," said Nate.

Some people have called the number to complain about the signs decreasing property value and being detrimental to community pride. Many, though, are amused at the creativity.

"I think we just laugh about that in the area, it's funny to us," said Garcia.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal. People need to chill out," said Gould.

Nate now hopes all the planted signs will produce some cash before they get plucked.

"We are at least taking their investment of the signs off the street," said Lt. Russell.

Arizona law mandates that all landlords and homeowners notify a prospective buyer or renter if meth, ecstasy, or LSD was manufactured on the property.