Law Enforcement: NYPD Shuts Down Chelsea Clubs Over Drug Violations 4/7/06

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The New York City Police Department put a big dent in Manhattan's Chelsea club scene last Friday night as hundreds of officers swarmed into seven clubs and shut them down because of alleged drug law violations. Stunned revelers were herded into the streets as police padlocked doors and put up orange warning tape. In a press release, the NYPD said a nine-month investigation resulted in numerous drug sales to undercover officers inside the clubs popular with the city's "club kids."

The NYPD's Narcotic Division, Quality Assurance Unit and the Manhattan South Vice Enforcement Unit shuttered the following West Side clubs: Avalon at 40 W. 20th St., Spirit at 530 W. 27th St., Splash at 50 W. 17th St., View at 230 Eighth Ave. and Club Deep at 16 W. 22nd St. Two other clubs, Club Speed at 20 W. 39th St. and Steel Gym at 146 W. 23rd St., were hit with restraining orders that allow them to stay open, but they must refrain from illegal activity.

Police reported that they purchased marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin inside the clubs on various occasions. They also reported witnessing drug use, alcohol sales to minors, and prostitution inside the clubs.

The city used its nuisance abatement law, widely known as the "crack house law," to shut down the clubs. It is used to target properties with persistent criminal activity.

Ironically, one of the clubs, Avalon, is located in an old church that formerly housed the Limelight, a club notorious for similar activity. In operation between 1983 and 2002, the Limelight was shut down on three occasions between 1994 and 1996 by state and federal authorities who accused its owners of turning it into "a drug bazaar."

And before that was disco, cocaine, and Club 54. The more some things change, the more they stay the same.

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Issue #430 -- 4/7/06

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