The city of Columbus shut down two crack houses that officials said plagued their neighborhoods for years with drugs, crime and violence, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein’s office announced Thursday.
The Columbus Division of Police targeted both homes in separate investigations after officers responded to the premises for incidents ranging from multiple drug overdoses, sexual assault, and domestic violence to weapons violations, stolen vehicles, robbery, and burglary.
Klein’s office filed dual motions for ex parte temporary restraining orders in the Franklin County Environmental Court to board up 674 S. Oakley Ave. on the city’s west side and 644 Fairwood Ave. in the South of Main neighborhood.
Columbus Police and other city agents surprised the occupants Thursday morning to remove them from the premises and enforce the court’s orders.
“The drug epidemic is one of the most dangerous threats to the health, safety, and well-being of our neighborhoods, and we need to be bold and aggressive in how we address this life-and-death issue,” said Klein. “As I continue to advocate for reforming our state drug sentencing laws, I’m very clear that we need to crack down hard on the traffickers and dealers who prey upon vulnerable people who suffer from substance abuse and addiction.”
674 South Oakley Avenue
According to court documents, Columbus Police have been responding to the premises since early 2017 on reports of drug dealing, sexual assault, a stolen vehicle, attempted burglary, and robbery.
Narcotics detectives conducted covert purchases of crack cocaine from the premises on Sept. 17, 2018, and Sept. 24, 2018.
On the latter date, officers also encountered a female heroin overdose victim.
The following day, police officials sent the property owner’s statutory agent a certified letter notifying him of the nuisance criminal activity occurring at the property and his responsibility to abate the issue.
On Oct. 12, 2018, police were dispatched to the premises for a domestic violence incident. Five days later, they responded again and found another overdose victim, who was administered Narcan and transported to a hospital.
On November 12, 2018, and Feb. 18, 2019, undercover detectives conducted covert purchases of heroin. Patrol officers also continued to be dispatched to the premises during this time period.
“We greatly appreciate the court granting the emergency board-up order and want to thank the Columbus Police Division for their diligent work on this case,” said Assistant City Attorney Zach Gwin. “We’ll continue to be aggressive in rooting out the drug activity that’s harming the west side, and neighborhoods all across our city.”
644 Fairwood Avenue
Columbus Police have been responding to this property, which is located within a short walking distance of Fairwood Alternative Elementary School, since at least 2014.
The owner/occupants are a mother and son duo who persistently sold crack cocaine from the rear of the house. In 2015, the son, Eugene Furguson II, was arrested with a sandwich bag of crack.
In 2016, the mother, Denise Ferguson, was charged with felony burglary.
On May 22, 2018, narcotics detectives executed a search warrant at the premises, seizing firearms, drugs, and cash.
On Sept. 14, 2018, the Franklin County Environmental Court found the premises to be a public nuisance and ordered it closed for seven months after city attorneys filed a complaint against the property.
The judge also permanently enjoined the Fergusons from maintaining a nuisance at the premises.
On Oct. 2, 2018, police received a report that Mr. Ferguson was at the premises with a “large gun.” On Nov. 19, 2018, police received a report that a gun had been fired, and “the male [who] fired the gun in the house exited the premises with a baseball bat, and a female exited the house with a fishing rod.”
After a covert purchase of crack cocaine from the back door of the house, narcotics detectives executed a search warrant on Feb. 6.
Officers confiscated cash, weapons, and ammunition. They also encountered at least 10 individuals inside the premises at the time of the raid.
On Feb. 25, March 4, and March 6, narcotics detectives made covert purchases of crack cocaine from the rear of the premises.
Officers subsequently executed another search warrant and seized cash, weapons, including a stolen handgun, ammunition, marijuana, and crack cocaine. Officers also encountered at least 14 people inside the premises.
“It’s troubling to know that this property—with all the weapons, drugs, and violence associated with it—is located within a short walking distance of an elementary school. It’s also just down the road from Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said Assistant City Attorney Heidy Tawadros. “That’s why it was so important for us to secure an emergency court order shut this place down.”
Hearings for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against both properties are scheduled at 1 p.m. on April 15.