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Drug Dealing in Privately Owned Apartment Complexes

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2001
56 pages

This guidebook describes the types of drug markets found in apartment complexes, provides questions to ask when analyzing these markets, suggests ways to encourage property owners to take more responsibility for problems, and summarizes the range of measures that can be used to address drug markets in apartment complexes.


In examining factors that contribute to drug dealing in privately owned apartment complexes, the author identifies two main types of drug markets: "open" and "closed." In open markets, dealers sell to all potential customers, screening out only those suspected of being police or some other threat. In closed markets, dealers sell only to people they know or to those vouched for by other buyers. Open markets in apartment complexes are much more susceptible to drive-by shootings, customers who care little about the property, and customers who use drugs on the property. Certain conditions make privately owned apartment complexes in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods susceptible to open-market drug dealing. In analyzing a particular local problem, it is helpful to analyze it from a financial perspective, evaluating the risks, rewards, efforts, and excuses dealers, buyers, property owners, and tenants might take into account. This will help in ascertaining the market's potential resilience to certain interventions and provide more persuasive evidence to property owners who consider their investments from an economic perspective. Specific questions that should be explored in the analysis are grouped under the following topics: the nature of the drug market, property management, property conditions, drug dealers, and drug buyers. This guidebook profiles various response strategies that might be tailored to a local analysis of the problem. The guidebook concludes with suggestions for taking into account displacement of drug dealing when strategies target particular locations for drug dealing. Appended summary of responses to drug dealing and a discussion of drugs, crime, and the criminal justice system, as well as 19 references

Date Published: August 1, 2001