Two North Memphis houses closed as public nuisances

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two North Memphis houses were closed as public nuisances Thursday after police responded to more than 30 calls there in the past two years, according to District Attorney General Amy Weirich's office.

Members of the Memphis Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit said the residences at 651 and 653 Decatur St. have been the scenes of illegal trafficking of crack cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

Just after Weirich's office announced the closures Thursday, officers with the Multi-Agency Gang Unit were seen arresting two men and a woman just feet away from the houses on Jackson. It is not known if the arrests were related to the houses on Decatur.

"I've seen maybe about four or five (arrests)," said witness Chris Bankston.

Darnell Yancey has been renting a room in one of the houses for a little more than a year and was there this afternoon as police busted down the door.

"They just came in, just said, 'Everybody get down!'" he said.

He said he's seen no definitive evidence of the drug dealing police are alleging, but wasn't too surprised to hear about prostitution allegations.

"Girls gone wild, yeah, that go on. Yeah, it be a wang-dang-do," Yancey said.

Other reported offenses at the residences located just north of Jackson Avenue include aggravated assaults, sexual assaults, robbery and motor vehicle theft. Between Jan. 1, 2016, and June 8, 2018, police have taken 17 people into custody related to the calls.

Yancey said there's also gambling at the homes.

"Just played cards, and, you know, we would just gamble, shoot dice, stuff like that."

A temporary injunction/restraining order closing the residences was filed by Gen. Weirich and Bruce McMullen, Chief Legal Officer and Memphis City Attorney, and granted by Judge Patrick Dandridge of General Sessions Environmental Court Division XIV.

According to property assessor records, the residences are owned by Topstone Inv Mem 1, LLC of Blue Springs, Missouri. Utility services are in the name of Tillis L. Hamilton at 651 Decatur and in the name of Lewis Graffed Jr. at 653 Decatur.

Eric Ragland II said his family has been watching for three generations as Decatur Street has gone downhill. Seeing two crime hotspots boarded up gives him hope.

"We just like to keep the community involved. I believe this will help community involvement. I believe it will help because people won't be afraid to speak out," he said.

A hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday before Judge Dandridge when the defendants will be asked to show cause why the temporary closing should not become permanent.