Officers with the Memphis Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit said this week the 2 Star Grocery at 1123 Dellwood Ave. near Whitney Ave. and the immediate area has been the site of 110 calls to police for disturbances and criminal activity between Feb. 2, 2015, and Feb. 23, 2016.
The store is in a residential area near the Whitney Achievement Elementary School and the Greenbriar apartment complex that is part of a Safety Zone created in December banning gang activity and associating by area members of FAM Mob. The store is included in the Safety Zone.
“This petition is filed in an effort to stop what appears to be a long-term and ever-worsening problem of criminal conduct at and around the 1123 Dellwood Property,” Gen. Weirich said in the petition for abatement of a nuisance. “The property is an uncontrolled danger and a nuisance, serving as a haven for extensive drug-related sales and activity, gang assembly, criminal disturbances and other dangerous behavior. Not surprisingly, it is the general reputation in the area and neighborhood that the property is a location associated with drug activity.”
The operator of the grocery, Ahmed Alshujaa, also known as Ahmed Alshuha-a, is scheduled to appear before Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday to show cause why the closure should not become permanent.
Police have made undercover buys of marijuana on the property, witnessed other hand-to-hand drug transactions inside and outside of the store and in one instance an undercover officer seeking to buy drugs was told by a cashier to talk with an individual outside the store.
The police Organized Crime Unit is part of the Multi-Agency Gang Unit (MGU) that also includes federal, local and suburban law enforcement.
Between February 2015 and April of this year, police have received 1,060 reports of criminal behavior within a half-mile radius of the grocery on Dellwood, resulting in at least 33 drug-related arrests.
Last December the DA’s office filed an injunction – that included the Greenbriar Apartments - after a two-year investigation by the MGU documented criminal acts by gang members including drug trafficking, murders, robberies, kidnappings, assaults, domestic violence and gambling.
The violence at the 208-unit Greenbriar and the 256-unit Ridgecrest, also in Frayser, is so prevalent that gang members themselves refer to the complexes as “Iraq” and “Afghanistan.”
The nuisance action is being handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Paul Hagerman of the DA’s Organized Crime Prosecution Unit.
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 law enforcement have resulted in the DA’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.