Vagrant activity on the property owned by the Bagiatis family in the 400 block of Ponce has recently escalated into a major magnet for drug activity. Every night up to 20 individuals camp in the storefronts of the 461/463 building (Domino’s Pizza, Best Wings, and the Ace Cash Express) and around the freestanding 447 building (Chico & Chang’s). The dark area behind Chico & Chang’s is also a spot for chronic nuisance loitering and drug activity generated by street people allowed to remain there. The photo gallery accompanying this post attests to vagrant activity – a tent in the rear, litter accumulation, and furniture parts around the property.
Drug activity runs rampant among these offenders, who can often be seen smoking crack on the property day and night. On 9/26/2014 Police arrested Tamiko Castillo and Cecil Smith for possession of crack cocaine on that property. After release from jail they reappeared on that property. The arrest occurred at the tables outside of Chico & Chang’s during daytime hours. David Swain was arrested on 10/16/2014 for possession of cocaine, near that location. He had been spending considerable time on the that property in the days leading up to this arrest. Swain has been on our watchlist for quite some time.
Drug dealing is also taking place on this property. People frequently come to the property to buy drugs, and they are clearly are not patronizing any of the establishments there. The typical scenario: the buyer will park at the rear of Chico & Chang’s, make contact with one of the street people, and then wait for someone to return to the site. After the transaction the buyer drives off. During that time these buyers never go to the building, let alone buy food.
These offenders present an adverse effect on the surrounding area, ranging from aggressive panhandling to serious criminal activity such as breaking into cars. On 7/23/2014 APD units caught James Avery Booker in the act of entering a vehicle and stealing items from it. In the days leading up to that he had been camping on the 461 property and loitering in the surrounding area. After release from jail he reappeared in the area, and frequented the that property at night. While he has not been seen in several weeks, he has a history of coming and going in the Ponce & Boulevard area. Enoch Prince, aka “Disco”, has been obtrusively begging in nearby traffic for years – he often appears on that property. Another individual frequenting this drug nest can be seen begging aggressively in traffic stopped on Ponce (see linked video).
Jackie Sue Hunter, one of the most notable criminals on our watchlist, keeps a high profile on that property. Almost every morning she can be seen at the tables at Chico & Chang’s. She was the most visible prostitute on Ponce when MPSA started operations in 2003. She has been criminally active since the 1970s, with the earliest case we have found dating back to a 1976 charge for unlawful manufacture, delivery, distribution, possession, or sale of a noncontrolled substances. In probably her most notable case, she was among three criminals charged in 1980 with Murder and Armed Robbery. Her murder charge is showing on court records as having been dead-docketed, but she was convicted for the armed robbery. Department of Corrections records show that she served five years in prison for that. The main co-defendant in the case, a Gene Saunders, was convicted of both the robbery and murder, and was sentenced to life. A third woman was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and robbery in the case. Since then Jackie has continued quite a life of crime, as reflected by the many cases found for her in Fulton, Dekalb Counties, and Cobb Counties. We have video footage of her engaging in what strongly appear to be drug transactions.
Businesses on the site compound the problem – most notably Domino’s and Chico & Chang’s. From what we see while conducting observation work across the street, Chico & Chang’s does too little to stop the loitering on the property. Street people loiter on the property for extended periods at their outdoor tables and behind the business. Domino’s Pizza workers have been observed on several occasions taking pizza outside to the street people loitering and camping outside. We are seeking to exert pressure on these businesses and the property owner to give due consideration to the detrimental effects that this open-air drug activity inflicts on the surrounding community.
We have furnished our documentation to the Atlanta Police Department (excerpt here), and they are proactively working to address the criminal activity and public disorder there. Below we have posted pictures and a video of conditions at that location, along with pictures of the mentioned offenders.
Picture set 1: Scenes from this drug nest:
Picture set 2: Offenders named in this report
Video showing conditions on and around this property.