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.