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Manhattan District Attorney's Narcotics Eviction Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1995
11 pages
Publication Series
This paper describes a New York City drug law enforcement program that involves the use of a civil statute to remove drug dealers from residential and commercial buildings.
In 1987 Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau heard about an unusual case in which drug dealers in an apartment building were evicted on the basis of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law. Based on this case, he created the Narcotics Eviction Program; this program systematically uses this civil statute to remove drug dealers from residential and commercial buildings. Between June 1988 and August 1994, the program removed drug dealers from 2,005 apartments and retail stores. The program's success stems from characteristics of the program and its operations. Witnesses can give the police anonymous tips about drug dealing without having to testify in court. Although the district attorney can undertake an eviction proceeding if necessary, the program gives landlords a strong incentive to take action themselves, because it furnishes them with police laboratory analyses and search-and-seizure reports. It also arranges for police witnesses to appear at civil trial and provides a staff attorney or paralegal to assist the landlord's attorney. Because the proceedings are civil, not criminal, the judge may authorize an eviction based on a preponderance of evidence that drug dealing is occurring. No arrest is necessary to meet this standard of proof. In most cases, the Manhattan drug dealers have not been official tenants, but have used rented premises for drug trafficking with the leaseholders' consent. Under the Narcotics Eviction program, the leaseholder can still be evicted if the evidence shows he/she knew that an illegal business was being conducted from the apartment. 3 figures

Date Published: May 1, 1995