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Press Release | NO. 2003-011

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Press Release # 011
Friday, February 7, 2003

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly And Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan Announce Closure Of Two Nightclubs In Manhattan On Charges Of Ongoing Illegal "Designer" Drug Activities.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan today announced the closure of two large nightclubs in Manhattan on charges of ongoing illegal drug activities. The Sound Factory, at 616-620 West 46th Street, and Exit, at 610 West 56th Street, were closed on Friday, February 7, by order of the New York State Supreme Court. These closing orders are subject to modification by the court.

"The New York City Police Department is combatting the illegal narcotics trade everywhere in our city – not only in the streets, but also in nightclubs," said Commissioner Kelly. "Our detectives did a terrific job throughout this investigation. Thanks to their hard work, we are sending a clear message to nightclub owners: If you allow illegal drugs to saturate your business and endanger your patrons, we'll shut you down."

Special Narcotics Prosecutor Brennan said: "Most of those we are prosecuting are college students who seemed to have no appreciation of the legal consequences to themselves or the harm that their distribution of the drugs brought to their customers. The special treatment they received in the exclusive areas of the clubs enhanced their sense that they could conduct criminal business with impunity."

Both nightclubs have been the scene of numerous narcotics crimes, usually involving illegal "designer" drugs, such as Ecstasy (methylenedioxy methamphetamine or MDMA) and Special K (ketamine). In Exit, undercover detectives not only purchased drugs easily, they also observed many club patrons using them in the open. In other incidents, detectives purchased benign substances that the sellers claimed were illegal drugs, a common ploy used by narcotics dealers to defraud naive drug buyers.

The nightclub was previously the subject of a nuisance abatement action, in September 2000. After extensive negotiations with the club owners at that time, Exit was allowed to operate after club management agreed to institute numerous anti-drug policies, including hiring an independent private-sector inspector general, or IPSIG, to monitor and report on club activities. The IPSIG agreement covered a nine-month period, from October 2001 to June 2002.

At the Sound Factory, the larger nightclub with a capacity of more than 1,400 people, undercover detectives purchased Ecstasy, Special K, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. During the investigation, drug use by patrons was clearly in the open. In fact, on Jan. 26, 2003, a 19-year-old woman overdosed and was removed from the club in an unconscious state. The Sound Factory was also temporarily closed by nuisance abatement order on April 30, 1999.

This investigation was initiated by the Narcotics Division of the New York City Police Department and the investigation was assisted by the office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the NYPD's Civil Enforcement Unit. The Civil Enforcement Unit secured nuisance abatement closing orders against 649 locations across the city in 2002, for charges including illegal narcotics, gambling, prostitution, auto crime, stolen property, alcohol beverage control law, and trademark infringement offenses.

Eleven defendants are being prosecuted for drug sales inside the clubs by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

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