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North Memphis homes closed & 40 indicted after drug trafficking investigation

A long-term investigation by the Multi-Agency Gang Unit led to drug-trafficking conspiracy indictments of 40 people and the closures of three North Memphis houses.
Credit: Shelby County District Attorney General's Office

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A long-term investigation by the Multi-Agency Gang Unit has led to the drug-trafficking conspiracy indictments of 40 people and the closures of three North Memphis houses used as centers for distribution of cocaine and other illegal narcotics, said Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich.

The residences at 1357, 1361-1363 (duplex) and at 1364 Standridge St. near Chelsea and North Hollywood were closed as public nuisances under a civil statute following a petition filed by DA Weirich and Memphis Chief Legal Officer/City Atty. Jennifer Sink.

They said the residences were used to store and distribute cocaine, and represent “an uncontrolled danger and a nuisance, serving as a haven for drug-related sales, violence, criminal disturbances, and other dangerous behavior.” 

A petition for closure was approved by Environmental Court Judge Patrick Dandridge who issued a temporary injunction/restraining order. A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Monday Aug. 16 for the owners to show why the closures should not be made permanent.

The investigation by Memphis police, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and federal agents from Aug. 1, 2018, to April 1, 2021, revealed that cocaine, ecstasy/MDMA pills, and marijuana was bought and sold by defendants, some of whom also were charged with illegal possession of firearms as convicted felons.

“I am pleased that this operation has been successful in getting these drugs and firearms off the street, with many stolen vehicles being recovered, as well,” said Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Jr. “The people of Memphis and Shelby County deserve to live in safe communities, and this Multi-Agency Gang Unit operation that has led to the arrest of these individuals will benefit all of our citizens.”

Many of the narcotic dealers on Standridge are members of the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples, traditionally rival gangs but who worked cooperatively selling drugs in the area, the investigation showed.

Investigators said drug sales on Standridge typically began around 7 a.m. each day and continued past midnight.

Last month on Standridge MGU and agents from Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives  seized 17 weapons, four pounds of cocaine, four pounds of marijuana, a dozen vehicles, and 300 pills of ecstasy/MDMA, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

The homes are less than a half mile from three churches and two schools. Records indicate William Hill owns the abandoned residence at 1357 Standridge; the duplex at 1361/1363 Standridge is owned by Screaming Eagle Properties LLC of American Fork, Utah, and that 1364 Standridge is owned by John Freeman.

Defendants often would buy drugs for resale by others named in the indictments, including large-scale distributors and street-level dealers. In some instances, defendants imported large amounts of cocaine from out-of-state with intentions of distributing it to other dealers.

On Nov. 19, 2019, a suspect arrested outside of 1364 Standridge had 12.9 grams of cocaine, 1.2 pounds of marijuana, and $3,649 in cash.

“We will continue to work together to end illegal gun usage, drug sales, and gang activity,” said Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis. “House by house, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, we will rid our city of criminal activity.”

The case is being handled by Chief Prosecutor Paul Hagerman of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies & Narcotics Prosecution Unit and by William L. Gibbons Jr. of the City of Memphis – Law Division.

Similar investigations by law enforcement have resulted in the DA’s office filing nuisance petitions against the owners of residential and business properties. Some have resulted in permanent closure of the properties while others have reopened under consent orders to curb the crime and nuisance activity.       

Defendants arrested so far include Contino Burns, Steven Freeman, John Albae, John Freeman, Telly Hammond, Questor Boyd, Keith Jordan, Delaney Williams, Duncan Winston, Marcus Alsobrook, Antonio Strawder, Maggie Cannady, Jarmal Baker, Oscar Ellis, Devonte Horne, Lakenton Fields, Nathaniel Kimble, Morton Bobo, Caurniesha Stephens, Frederick Hawthorne, Kanisha Davis, Michael Martin, Romena Davis and Ralph Faulker.

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