Police have been called to the Beverly Hills Apartments 396 times between June 2, 2014, and Oct. 15 of this year.
Investigators say the complex has an open-air drug market with heavy vehicle traffic and hand-to-hand drug transactions in plain view. A court order closed the complex to new business, but allows present residents to remain rather than immediately displacing them.
The closure follows numerous undercover operations and surveillance by a joint task force involving the Memphis Police Department Old Allen Station Precinct and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Problems at the 58-unit complex have become a growing concern because a children’s day care facility is next door.
Referee John Cameron signed a temporary injunction/restraining order following the DA’s petition for abatement of a nuisance.
The registered owners of the complex are Randy and Margaret Morrison of Berkeley, Calif., although they are not alleged to be participants in the nuisance activity.
A hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Monday in Environmental Court for them to tell the court why the closure should not be made permanent.
The complex, which includes five separate buildings, is managed out of an unused apartment unit. The criminal activity in the complex threatens both the law-abiding residents of the complex as well as the surrounding community.
“It is very common when officers arrive at the complex, whether in response to a call or not, that individuals are loitering in the complex and upon officer’s arrival begin to run,” Asst. Dist. Atty. Paul Hagerman of the DA’s Organized Crime Prosecution Unit said in the nuisance petition. “On numerous occasions, these individuals have been pursued and caught and found to have illegal narcotics, weapons and/or felony warrant.”
Police and ATF agents have made undercover purchases of at least 10 firearms from various individuals at the apartment complex and have purchased or seized illegal drugs, including marijuana and heroin, as well as packaging material and digital scales commonly used by drug dealers. At least seven shootings have been reported there, including one involving a robbery victim and another involving a gang dispute in which an assault-style weapon was fired approximately 17 times.
Investigators said the Raleigh Rich Gang, a subset of the Gangster Disciples, maintain control of the Beverly Hills Apartments complex, which members of the Vice Lords street gang who reside in the complex are allowed to sell illegal narcotics after paying a “tax” to the Gangster Disciples.
In the immediate area of the complex, police have recorded 89 incident reports and 59 arrests during the period of June last year to October of this year. The incidents include 10 residential burglaries, 10 aggravated assaults and four robberies.
The complex participates in the DA’s Anti-Trespass Initiative which is designed to discourage criminal activity at apartments and multi-family communities. At least seven arrests have been made in accordance with the initiative.
“The Anti-Trespass Initiative gives officers a tool to use in controlling crime at apartment complexes, but in some cases more severe measures are needed,” said Gen. Weirich. “The Beverly Hills complex has become a public nuisance for the entire community and this closure of new business has become necessary. Whether this closure is permanent or temporary will be up to the owners.”
Under Tennessee nuisance law, the District Attorney General has authority to bring a civil action against any establishment deemed a nuisance.
The statute defines a nuisance, in part, as “any place in or upon which. . .unlawful sale of any regulated legend drug, narcotic or other controlled substance. . .quarrelling, drunkenness, fighting or breaches of the peace are carried on or permitted.”
Similar investigations by police have resulted in the D.A.’s office filing nuisance petitions against the owners of more than 200 residential and business properties.
Some have resulted in permanent closure of the properties while others have reopened under consent orders to curb the crime.