Posted: Feb 27, 2012 5:30 PM
Updated: Feb 27, 2012 6:19 PM
SAN JUAN - Police are trying to shut down an apartment complex they say is a safe haven for gangs and drugs.
In January a gang member was murdered at the Condesa Apartments. CHANNEL 5 NEWS has learned that dozens of gang members live in the complex. The owners live in California and refused to comment.
We asked the local management about the gang problems. They refused to comment as well. Their lawyer says this is the city's problem.
Horacio Pena says his clients, the owners and manager of Condesa apartments, are being blamed for a city wide problem.
"My clients are being targeted. They're becoming the scape goats," said Pena.
Police Chief Juan Gonzalez is trying to shut down those apartments. Last year, his officers responded to more than 40 calls at that complex for drugs or violence. He says at least two dozen gang members are living there right now.
The situation escalated from dangerous to deadly in January when a known gang member was beaten to death.
"The owners knew what was going on. The residents knew what was going on," said Chief Gonzalez."It goes beyond renting rooms."
Pena says his clients tried working with police. They even tried getting rid of some of the gang members.
"They're armed with a pen and the best they can do is file a notice of eviction," said Pena.
He showed us a warning letter sent to unit number five. It is the same apartment that police raided after the murder.
The chief says he never received a letter showing the eviction.
Pena says it's not his clients job to control the gangs.
"You can't leave it up to an apartment manager to try to alleviate a problem that's been there for years," said Pena.
He says closing Condesa is the easy way out. The gangs will simply move to another apartment. Pena says he will sue the city if they shut down those apartments.
Chief Gonzalez says he's not picking on those owners. He says they are also targeting apartments known for gang activity on Cougar and First street in San Juan. He wants to send a message that apartment owners need to work with police to fix the problem.