A heroin house near downtown Los Angeles is officially out of business, authorities said this week.
There are heroin houses in L.A.? At least one, says the City Attorney's Office.
The drug has been on a comeback nationwide, with federal officials blaming a sixfold increase in the number of heroin-related deaths between 2001 and last year on legal gateway drugs known as opioid pain relievers.
The City Attorney's Office said it has successfully shut down a duplex with “ongoing heroin traffic” at 736 E. 24th St.
Prosecutors say the property was taken down with a nuisance abatement lawsuit filed against owner Felipe Lopez and resident Fernando Chavez, who authorities say is a Primera Flats gang member.
The suit alleged that the two were “permitting and facilitating rampant narcotics sales,” the City Attorney's Office stated.
Buyers came from all over Los Angeles because the location had the “best heroin” around, prosecutors said.
Los Angeles Police Department officers were frequent visitors to the property, making 39 arrests for heroin sales and other narcotics allegations since summer 2013, they said.
Search warrant raids have turned up heroin, meth, three loaded firearms and ammunition, authorities alleged.
But the defendants had ways of staying out of handcuffs, the City Attorney's Office said in a statement.
“Narcotics sellers, including Primera Flats gang members, allegedly had systems in place to warn buyers of police presence in the area,” the office said.
L.A. County Superior Court Judge Stephanie M. Bowick granted a one-year shutdown of the property. The place must be vacated within two months.
But prosecutors aren't done.
They've proposed an injunction that would prohibit gang activity on the property and mandate improvements that would include lighting, fencing, “improved tenant screening” and better “lease enforcement procedures,” the City Attorney's Office stated.
“For too long, this property has been the epicenter of drugs and criminal activity in this community,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer. “Shutting it down demonstrates we'll take decisive action to protect health and safety in our neighborhoods.”