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Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

Lex Market: Sandwich with chips, and a Beretta 380

Sandwich, chips, a Beretta 380: Get it all at Lexington Market

Lexington Market, the 227 year-old West Baltimore landmark famous for crab cake and local color, just lost a hunk of its tourism revenue for the year.

A federal investigation alleges that some market stands are hawking more than fish and chips. Gang members have been shopping for guns at the Utz potato chip stand.

Two Harley Davidson fans who run the stand are being charged with being unlicensed gun sellers.

Per City Paper

In addition to detailing six transactions involving 13 guns since 2007, the nine-page [ATF] complaint describes Papantonakis’ attempts to have someone beat up the market’s general manager Casper Genco, who also heads the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation.

The 56 year old stand’s owner, a former bounter hunter, allegedly packaged Walther, Sig-Sauer and Beretta handguns in Utz potato chip boxes out of his snack foods stall. With his 21 year-old girlfriend, he reportedly boasted about selling to Bloods, Crips and Hell’s Angels, and complained about having his automatic weapons supply cut off. An ex military man had supplied him with M-16s before. Apparently, the potato chip stand was known for selling cocaine alongside Old Bay-spiced crisps.

The district court complaint is an incredible document of the hubris of the chip stand owner. City Paper has helpfully posted the complaint to its Web site in its entirety.

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Abandoned home in Pigtown

Abandoned home in Pigtown

There may be a silver lining to the City Paper’s story about Patterson Park Community Development Corporation going bankrupt. With this example of what a for-profit company can achieve in a few years with a modest budget, councilperson William Cole will soon introduce a measure to the City Council that aims to redevelop what is being called Baltimore’s Outer Harbor–according to the Outer Harbor Initiative, that means borderline neighborhoods like Westport, Pigtown, and Patterson Park.

According to the bill, “In the City of Baltimore, there exists a severe housing problem with respect to the supply of affordable housing …In 2005… more than 16,000 households were on the waiting list for assisted housing.”

According to the Initiative, Baltimore’s more than 17,000 abandoned rowhouses and 13,000 vacant lots are a siren call for drug dealing, illegal dumping, rats, squatters, and drug users.

The Initiative points to a recent study by Harvard and Suffolk University that “confirmed the ‘broken window theory’—that blight sends a message to criminals that no one in the neighborhood is in charge, making it ‘open for business’.” They conclude, “Neighborhoods cannot be safe or stable until abandoned housing is addressed effectively.”

What does the bill aim to do? Per the Initiative,

“It’s a resolution … to direct more resources to housing code enforcement activities, to clean up abandoned buildings, or to acquire them for rehabbing and sale to new owners. It will also dedicate resources to help attract new residents.”

Thanks to Baltimore’s new slumlord watchdog site for highlighting this promising initiative.

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Windup Getaway

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The Windup Space is a new Baltimore discovery just north of Mount Vernon. All week, the rotating drug dealers on the corner hovered oppressively, so on Friday we retreated up to scenic North Avenue to visit Baltimore’s newest gallery/music club. For those who don’t live on any Baltimore Block, when I describe North Ave as scenic, I’m speaking in a post-irony, filmatic sense. It is scenic, like you are walking along a gorgeous wide angle camera pan on The Wire. What does that look like? Per City Paper:

“Maybe you’ve noticed the giant effing burned-out building at the corner or North Avenue and Charles Street, and maybe you’ve noticed the giant concrete shell of a building that houses Family Dollar on the adjacent corner at North and Maryland avenues. Making the ballsiest stab into Station North development since Joe Squared, the Windup Space occupies the slight building sandwiched in between the two.”

[Kudos, my new neighbors. The alternative journos live one block west of my new block, Cathedral–beloved by junkies and church goers alike.]

Windup Space, at 10-12 West North Avenue, was host to the record release party of sexy “grown up” band Lo Moda and openers The Miracles, featuring a spastic girl drummer. The Critters exhibit had just opened and the bug and rabbit-themed sketches, paintings and photos set the stage for off-kilter rock and roll. May Wilson’s dead deer sculpture made the place a rec room-hunting lodge and $3 whiskeys helped us forget we were bundled in parkas, since the space heaters didn’t penetrate the bone-chilling draft seeping in from the tundra of North Avenue.

After another whiskey, we put our gloves back on, blew out hot air, and scurred out to the car. Back south a few blocks, the drug dealer had gone home–it was too cold outside.

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Reading about Baltimore’s heroin addiction rate. In 2002, it was estimated at 7%–45,000 users in a population of about 650,000 people. Many link high drug addiction rates to Charm City’s “stubborn” homicide rate, which remains, unlike nearly any other American city, at 1990 levels.

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