By Luke Thomas
January 30, 2012
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, with SFPD Chief Greg Suhr by his side, announced during a press conference today the filing of civil lawsuits against two Tenderloin markets for allegedly facilitating in drugs trafficking.
The lawsuits were filed following a two-year undercover police investigation which documents “numerous instances in which the markets operated as virtual safe havens for the sale of cocaine, crack, heroin, prescription painkillers and other drugs,” in violation of the Drug Abatement Act, according to Herrera.
Defendants Barah’s Market, located at 200 Leavenworth Street, and Razan Deli, located at 391 Ellis Street, also allegedly engaged in the purchase and resale of stolen merchandise, according to the city’s complaints.
Citing their proximity to schools and vulnerable populations, Herrera said the lawsuits were filed to shutdown the two markets for a minimum of one year, calling them the most “egregious violators of the public trust.”
The lawsuits also seek, at a minimum, $25 thousand in penalties and $2,500 for each violation of unlawful business practices.
“Both these entities have been the subject of a combined 182 calls for service in 2011, alone,” Herrera stated at the intersection of Turk and Leavenworth streets with Barah’s Market serving as a convenient backdrop.
“I think these businesses deserve to be closed,” added SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. “The lawsuits are solid and the Tenderloin will be a lot better off without these irresponsible businesses.”
Because the legal action taken against the markets are civil in nature, no criminal arrests have so far been made, Herrera stated.
A regular customer of Barah’s Market painted a different story and defended the proprietor.
“This is a good store. I’ve never seen anything happen here,” said Tony Montesinos, a caseworker with Hospitality House. “Maybe things are going on late at night, but if you come around late at night, it’s a nut house. It’s a mad house, this neighborhood. These four corners are terrible at night – and during the day. They all loiter in front, but you can’t do nothing about that.”
Montesinos said the SFPD should post an officer full-time on the corner of Leavenworth and Turk streets to deter crime and drug trafficking.
Asked if he regularly sees SFPD officers walking beats in the area to deter crime, Montesinos said, “They show up every once in a while to do their sweeps, but they could use a lot more.”