The Narcotics Eviction Program (NEP), administered by the Special Litigation Bureau, targets drug dealers who have moved their activities into private apartments and commercial buildings. Bringing criminal charges against persons who have brought their illegal business activities indoors has rigid requirements involving search warrants, seizures, and arrests. NEP evicts drug dealers from premises by using a state civil statute, the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law. Pursuing eviction under civil law, in addition to criminal prosecution, allows the District Attorney's Office to wage a two-front attack on drug dealers. Eviction proceedings are brought under the same law against other illegal business operations, such as houses of prostitution, gambling dens, counterfeit goods manufacturers, and firearms traffickers.
The eviction process has three principal stages. First, the Special Projects Bureau reviews all narcotics-related search warrants, and also screens cases referred to it by the Office's Community Affairs Unit, the Police Department, landlords, tenants, and community groups. If the cases meet strict evidentiary requirements, the process moves to the second stage, notification.
After a case has been deemed sufficient, NEP notifies the appropriate landlord and requests that eviction proceedings be initiated against the tenant who is using or allowing others to use the subject apartment or store to conduct an illegal business. Should the landlord fail to comply, the District Attorney's Office has the authority to proceed as though it were the owner of the premises. In most cases, the landlord is more than willing to help evict the tenant and welcomes the support of the Office.
Finally, NEP assists landlords in court by arranging for testimony by police witnesses and by providing the necessary paperwork. The program also provides a staff attorney or paralegal to monitor the proceedings and otherwise assist the landlord's attorney. With the collaboration of the New York City Housing Authority, the District Attorney's Office itself has litigated many eviction actions involving that agency's subsidized rental units. The summary nature of these court proceedings means that the cases are litigated expeditiously.
The Narcotics Eviction Program has developed into an exceptional tool for the removal of drug dealers and other illegal business operators from residential and commercial locations. Since the program's inception in 1988, these undesirable tenants have been removed from over 6,000 locations. Despite this large number, the District Attorney's Office reviews each case individually and is careful not to seek eviction where fairness requires a different remedy.