Authorities: Former ‘opium den’ demolished at 216 E. 20th St. in Rome. Floyd Police detail rising overdose deaths, resulting charges with more possible. With video and photos.

Authorities: Former ‘opium den’ demolished at 216 E. 20th St. in Rome. Floyd Police detail rising overdose deaths, resulting charges with more possible. With video and photos.

Demolition crews were joined by federal and local authorities Wednesday morning for the as a former grocery/residence at 216 E. 20th St. that law enforcement say was a drug haven and opium den for years was brought down. The structure was about a block west of Maple Avenue. Since earlier Wednesday, city crews havdbeen at the home, preparing to take it down with an arsenal of heavy equipment. Dilapidated and about to crumble in on itself, it was known as the 7-Up house because of the logo still on the Wheeler Street side of the building.

New Thursday: How Atlanta TV covered the demolition, media event. WSB

From Floyd County Police:

FCPD post: “Crews destroy a house on East 20th Street that was known as the 7-Up house. The location was notorious as a hive for drug traffic and a place where wanted fugitives could hide out. Police Chief Mark Wallace called the event today a “shot across the bow” to people who own property that is being used to peddle dangerous drugs. “Take notice that we are watching and we might end up on your doorstep.”

FCPD’s YouTube post on the demolition and what it means. Floyd Police

Media release: The chief of the Floyd County Police Department has thrown down the gauntlet to owners of slum properties who knowingly allow drugs to flow in and out of neighborhoods.

The Floyd County Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office met Wednesday with other local officials to demolish a house that has been a drug den and rat hole for fugitives hiding from police.

BJ Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, marked the occasion with announcement of federal indictment against a local drug dealer, whose actions resulted in the death of a woman in July 2018.

According to the indictment, Shane Terhune distributed heroin and as a result caused the death of another. That person was identified as Gabriella Leffew, a young mother in her 20s who overdosed on the deadly cocktail. If convicted of the offense, Terhune is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of life.

The indictment is the first of many, according to law enforcement officials. “To the people who are peddling this poison, justice will catch up to you,” said Pak in his message to drug dealers.

Overdose deaths in Floyd County have been steadily rising and now is the time for dealers to be held accountable. Since 2017, there have been 58 overdose deaths in Floyd County. That includes 19 in 2017, 25 in 2018 and so far in 2019 there have been 14 reported overdose deaths. Those numbers could have been much higher if the police department had not started issuing Narcan to officers.

Floyd County Police Maj. Jeff Jones, commander of the investigative division, reported that police and rescue personnel have administered 421 doses of Naloxone (also known as Narcan) to revive victims of overdose. “We want to find the dealers who sell drugs to people who die and hold them responsible.”

Police Chief Mark Wallace said the announcement and demolition was a “shot across the bow” to slum owners who allow drug transactions to prospire. Take notice that we are looking at you and we might end up on your doorstep.”

Jones said the house at 216 East 20th St.t was notorious and that its sole purpose was for dealing and maintaining the drug trade. He said people were buying drugs, being shot up and then allowed to crash at the house.

The property owner was behind on taxes and they were frequently caught stealing power. Thanks to the Rome Building Inspection office, the location was condemned and turned over to local government for destruction.

The police department specially thanks Glenn Rubin and Howard Gibson from the building inspection office for their tireless work.

Rubin said the location was not fit for human habitation but the flow of drug traffic was relentless.

The location was formerly the location of an old mom-and-pop grocery store and because of the green “7-Up” advertisement that painted on an outside wall, druggies knew it as the 7-Up house.

“As soon as you run somebody off there’s another back in,” Wallace said.

Pak identified the collaborative effort as Project Safe Neighborhoods. He said the focus by his office is to prosecute and remove the most violent individuals from our communities.

Drug trafficking is directly linked to the financing of criminal street gangs. “Every citizen deserves to live in a safe and clean community, free from drugs and violence.” he said.

“Trafficking of drugs is the top priority of the Department of Justice,” Pak said.

From Rome Police:

From left, WSB reporter Mark Winne talks with District Attorney Leigh Patterson, Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney and Chief Mark Wallace of the Floyd County Police Department. RPD photo.

 

RPD release: “Rome Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney at the site of the demolition of 216 E 20th St. This house was destroyed by court order after an overwhelming amount of arrests were made involving criminal activity and drug sales. This is the first demolition of a residence due to criminal activity and more are possible in the foreseeable future. This was made possible as a result of an extensive investigation by the Rome Floyd County Metro Drug Task Force. Downer-McKinney would like to thank the different agencies involved in stopping this criminal activity from occurring in Rome.”

Additional photos:

Crews standing by on Wheeler Street awaiting the go call to demolish what authorities call an opium den at 216 E. 20th St. Hometown photo.
That 7Up logo that was used to brand the former grocery. Hometown photo.
Photo from earlier Wednesday at city of Rome crews were setting up for demolition. Hometown photo
A look at 216 E. 20th St. from earlier Wednesday. Hometown photo.
A look inside the store/home prior to demolition Wednesday morning. Photo: Floyd County Police.
And as the final sweep gets under way. Photo: Floyd County Police
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