U.S. asks to sell club run by drug ring Move involves the Underground

January 29, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

The U.S. attorney's office filed a request yesterday to take over ownership of the Underground Nightclub, former headquarters of drug kingpin Melvin "Little Melvin" Williams' $1 million-a-week heroin ring.

U.S. Attorney Richard Bennett called the West Baltimore nightclub "a blight on the neighborhood and a cancer on the fabric of the community" and said the building and its fixtures would be auctioned off by federal marshals.

Williams, once a central figure in the city's heroin traffic, is serving a 35-year federal sentence in Minnesota. The nightclub was his headquarters and even after his conviction in 1984 was the base for a heroin ring run by four of his nephews, authorities said.

That ring was broken up last May after an investigation by city, state and federal officers.

Mr. Bennett said the Underground, in the 2100 block of Edmondson Ave., was "the spot" where drug dealers went to congregate with each other.

He said it is unknown how much money the nightclub and the assets are worth. While part of the money raised will go toward covering the costs of the investigation, a "significant portion" of the proceeds will be given to city police for narcotics enforcement, Mr. Bennett said.

In the government affidavit requesting that the nightclub be forfeited, a local pastor, the Rev. Norman Handy of Unity Methodist Church, was quoted as describing the nightclub ties to the narcotics trade.

Dr. Handy, who is also the president of the Harlem Park Neighborhood Council, said the club had become "the place for drug dealers to see and be seen."

Mr. Bennett said it was unusual for a statement by a community leader to be part of an affidavit for forfeiture, but he said the neighborhood "had had enough" of the club's influences.

"It was a known den of iniquity. Everybody knew what it was," Mr. Bennett said.

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