Drug Houses Shut Down Under City Ordinance Reaches 13

  • Drug Houses Shut Down Under City Ordinance Reaches 13

    Drug Houses Shut Down Under City Ordinance Reaches 13

    The Martinsburg Police Department announced the 13th drug house shut down under the City’s innovative “Drug House Ordinance.” The latest drug selling operation knocked down by MPD was located at 109 E. Liberty Street.   The drug house ordinance was triggered after MPD officers Corporal Justin Harper and Patrolman Bill Staub responded to a call of a domestic disturbance involving the tenants of the residence, Mr. Dameon Hairston and his wife.

    Upon arrival at the scene, the officers observed Mr. Hairston walking from the front porch of his residence and heading towards the next-door house. Hairston was carrying a carrying a baby and a shoe box. Officers Harper and Staub called Hairston to them in order to investigate the incident and observed the strong smell of marijuana on his clothing. During the conversation with the officers, Mr. Hairston removed his hand from a pocket and a large number of suboxone packets fell to the ground. Hairston was placed under arrest and further investigation revealed Hairston to be in possession of 25 suboxone packets that he did not have a medical prescription for and a small quantity of marijuana packaged for sale. The shoe box in his possession contained packaging materials used in the sale of illegal drugs.

    Dameon Hairston has an extensive criminal history and is presently on parole for a drug dealing conviction. Hairston’s record shows multiple drug-related arrests including two felony convictions for delivery of narcotics and other controlled substances. This latest case is now pending in court.

    Police Chief Maury Richards appeared before Martinsburg’s Chief Magistrate on September 28th to obtain an Order of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity on the property. The property owner, Mr. Steven Sagi of Hagerstown, Maryland, was found to be in violation of the Drug House ordinance and has

    been sent written notification of the Chief Magistrate’s action. Sagi is scheduled to appear before the Municipal Court of the City of Martinsburg on November 15th to provide evidence that he has complied with the Chief Magistrate’s order.

    Chief Maury Richards emphasized the importance of the Drug House Ordinance in the Police Department’s drug fighting strategy and praised his officers’ standout work. “No child in our town should have to grow up next door to a drug house,” stated Richards. “MPD is committed to working with all community residents to continue improving the quality of life for every decent family in Martinsburg and our Drug House Ordinance is an important tool to help get that job done. Justin Harper and Bill Staub did a great job in responding quickly, making a quality arrest, and building this case,” the Martinsburg Chief added.

    “I’m glad that we were able to put one more drug dealer out of business in Martinsburg,” commented Corporal Justin Harper. “With the Drug House Ordinance, we can make sure that drugs won’t be sold from the same place anymore. It’s really a good thing for the people in the neighborhood,” Harper stated.

    “We’re in this for the long haul,” said Deputy Chief George Swartwood. “We want the cooperation of every property owner and I hope we get it, but make no mistake, we are going to clean up this problem one house at a time,” Swartwood added.

    Since June of last year, Martinsburg’s Drug House Ordinance has been successfully shutting down drug houses in neighborhoods across the city. Martinsburg has led the way as other West Virginia cities have patterned similar local ordinances based on the Martinsburg model. Huntington and Parkersburg have recently enacted drug house ordinances and Clarksburg is now also considering one.

    Under the provisions of the Martinsburg ordinance, property owners are subject to fines if they fail to take appropriate action to abate the problem within 30 days of notification. The Order of Abatement announced today contains compliance stipulations including: evicting problem tenants, other actions to prevent the recurrence of illegal drug activity, and mandating criminal background checks on future tenants to insure they are “free from convictions for prostitution; illegal gambling; illegal possession, storage, or delivery of or trafficking in controlled substances, or other illegal drug activity.” The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property.