Wednesday, February 10, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
U.S. attorney Steven Alm says drug activity was taking place
in these hallway video booths at Dave's Amusements in
Chinatown. The business was one of three closed down
by federal officials in the seized building at Hotel
and Smith streets

Feds close down 3
alleged drug ‘havens’

By Jaymes K. Song


U.S. marshals have seized a building in Chinatown that officials called "a safe haven" for drugs.

But business owners and patrons said the government is a bully.

"They're grabbing land, and they're doing it in the name of the war on drugs," said Mike Malone, owner of China Sea Tattoo Co., which is in the building being seized. "They're picking on everybody."

Swing Video, Dave's Amusement and Amy's Place were shut down in the building at Hotel and Smith streets.

The three businesses accounted for 64 undercover purchases of crack cocaine in a three-month period, U.S. attorney Steven Alm said.

The building also houses the tattoo parlor, a graphics office and an adult theater. No drug activity was found in those businesses, and they will be allowed to stay open, Alm said.

"This has been a safe haven to deal drugs out of," Alm said. "And the purpose of the activity was to stop these places from being safe havens."

Amy Breslin, owner of Amy's Place, said she has worked diligently to run a clean business since she took it over 2-1/2 years ago. She also invested thousands in remodeling the bar.

"This is not fair," she said in tears. "Really, this is not fair."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Francis Yamashita issued a warrant for the seizure after officials filed a forfeiture action against the building last month. The judge found probable cause that the "facilities here were used to facilitate drug dealing -- in this case, crack cocaine."

Alm said the owner of the building, Anchor Ltd., received several warnings since 1996 to clean up the place -- to no avail.

Anchor officials could not be reached for comment.

Breslin said she never received any warnings because they were given to the building owner. And the 17 drug arrests that Alm said were made at her business were outside her doors.

Breslin added that the business is her only income source and that her family will be devastated financially.

"I think a lot of people are being punished for something they never did," Malone said. "Nothing happened in that bar. That bar was a clean joint. They worked real hard to keep drugs out of there -- the same way I worked hard to keep drugs out of here.

"Yet the feds decide to grab this piece of property. It's land-grabbing. It's shameful," he said.

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