Feds move to seize "crack house"

Feds move to seize "crack house" (Reporter: Jon Erickson)

KINSTON, LENOIR COUNTY - A federal prosecutor has filed paperwork to eliminate an alleged drug house from Kinston.

The prosecutor's tactic: a government seizure of the "crack house" at 302 E. Caswell St.

The process, known as civil forfeiture, is supported by a written statement from an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Undercover purchases of crack cocaine occurred at the boarding house "eight times from 5 different individuals" over a nine-month period ending in 2012, according to the agent's statement.

The property owner, Al Sutton, was notified of the drug activity and "failed to take reasonable steps to terminate the illegal conduct at the property," according to the ATF agent.

If approved by a judge, the government would assume ownership of the property.

Sutton lives elsewhere and is not face any criminal charges.

"I'm in the rental business, not the drug business," the 82-year-old Sutton said.

Sutton said the people who were selling drugs at the property have been arrested.

"Kinston has a problem with drugs," Sutton said.

He told a reporter that he allows police on the property and inside the house at any time.

Police have responded to the property 13 times since 2010, for reasons ranging from assaults to drug calls.

A man who lives in the area, who asked to remain anonymous, is pleased that the government is intervening in his neighborhood.

"Everybody in Kinston knows what goes on there, apparently someone decided to do something about it," the man said.

Sutton admits that he is unsure of how he will fight the government's pending court action.

"I'm 82 years old," Sutton said.

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