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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Last Call at Drug-Dealing Tenderloin Market

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM

You cannot fool us
  • You cannot fool us

San Franciscans know a bodega when they see one. And Razan Market and Deli, at Ellis and Jones streets in the Tenderloin, has all the telltale signs.

For starters, the store is open 24 hours a day at one of the city's least savory corners -- though the doors do get closed and locked when uniformed cops show up, according to court filings -- and  there's very little merchandise for sale inside.

Inside, undercover cops for almost a year sold store clerks items they said was stolen from Walgreen's, and were then offered -- and accepted -- crack for their trouble. (The market also passed a routine Health Department inspection during this time, but so it goes.)

It's farewell to all that, thanks to the judicial system -- though not the criminal branch. The market must close by April 1, according to court ruling in a civil suit announced Monday, pay an $80,000 fine, and turn over all "contraband and paraphenalia" to the city. Party in the evidence room, everyone!

Market operator Walid Adbelrahman, named in the civil suit, is among a number of unsavory merchants in the Tenderloin targeted for closure by City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

It's not entirely certain why police officers bought and sold allegedly stolen merchandise 

 since 2010 without making any arrests of store ownership or clerks. At one point, the store clerk referred to the undercover cop as "family," and requested that the next time he bring "aspirin, Neosporin, and Visine," according to court filings (essential gear for a drug corner, we suppose).

Cops responded to 118 calls for service at the market over a period of a year, Herrera's office said. At some point, the criminal investigation was turned over to Herrera's office, which began the closure proceedings that a judge signed off on Monday.

Herrera filed suit against Razan and Barah Market, at 200 Leavenworth Street, on Jan. 30. Barah Market is still open, at least for the time being.

Cocaine, crack, heroin, prescription painkillers, "and other drugs" were also sold at the market, along with cigarettes and crack pipes, according to a release from the City Attorney's Office. The market must close by April 1 and stay closed for at least a year, according to a Superior Court judge.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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