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Crack house closure by West Midlands Police in the United Kingdom

A drug house, also known as a trap house, bando, jugg house, or crack house, is a building where drug dealers and drug users buy, sell, produce, and use illegal drugs, including crack cocaine.[1][2][3]

Often they are old, abandoned or burnt-out buildings, oftentimes in an inner city neighborhood.


United StatesEdit

In the 1980s, US inner city neighborhoods were subject to a number of forces, including white flight, redlining, planned shrinkage, and withdrawal of city services such as garbage collection. Police and fire protection of the housing stock in these areas dwindled both in size and quality. In areas such as West Baltimore, South Baltimore, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, the South Bronx, Brownsville, Brooklyn, South Jamaica, Queens and Flushing, Queens thousands of fires left entire blocks blighted.[4] City agencies picked these same neighborhoods as sites for drug rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters, and public housing, leading to an increase in the proportion of poor and needy people in areas with dwindling middle-class populations.

The strongest industry in some neighborhoods became the illegal drug trade, much to the chagrin of the few remaining community organizations. Abandoned buildings ravaged by arson or neglect formed perfect outposts for drug dealers since they were free, obscure, secluded and there would be no paper trail in the form of rent receipts. The sale of illegal drugs drew other kinds of violent crime to these neighborhoods, further exacerbating the exodus of residents. In some cases enraged citizens have burned crack houses to the ground, in hopes that by destroying the sites for drug operations they might also drive the problematic illegal industries from their neighborhoods.[5] Many major American inner cities contain crack houses.[6][7][8]

United KingdomEdit

Strong legislation in England and Wales provides a mechanism for police and local authorities to close crack houses which have been associated with disorder or serious nuisance.[9][10] Often, these crack houses have been found in social housing, which has been taken over by drug dealers and users.[11]

Laws such as the crack house closure order were designed to disrupt Class A drug dealing and anecdotal evidence suggests that it mainly affects socially housed tenants. The effect is that once an order is made, the premises are boarded up, and no one may enter the premises, initially for a period of three months, but this can be extended to six months on the application of the police.[12]

Popular cultureEdit

Drug houses have been a subject widely used in hip hop and trap music,[13][14] films such as Crack House[15] and the Taj Mahal sequence in Spike Lee's film Jungle Fever.[16][17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "A Glimpse Inside Our 'Crackhouse'". The New York Times. 26 October 1997.
  2. ^ "NEIGHBORHOOD CELEBRATES EVICTIONS AT CRACK HOUSE". The New York Times. 11 December 1986.
  3. ^ "Police Raid L.I. Crack House". AP. 28 October 1991 – via The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Police Raid Crack House, Then Have It Torn Down". The New York Times. 15 February 1989.
  5. ^ "'Crack House' Fire: Justice or Vigilantism?". The New York Times. 22 October 1988.
  6. ^ Press, From Associated (25 January 1997). "10 Children Found Left in Crack House" – via LA Times.
  7. ^ "23 gang members charged in huge Englewood drug bust".
  8. ^ "MAN CLEARED OF ARSON CHARGES IN FIRE AT ALLEGED CRACK HOUSE.(News/National/International)". 27 July 1996. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012.
  9. ^ Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, s.2(3)(b)[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Cumbria Constabulary v Wright (2006) EWHC 3574 (Admin); [2007] 1 WLR 1407
  11. ^ Mack, Jon (2008), "Anti-social behaviour: Part 1A closure orders", Journal of Housing Law, 11 (4): 71–74
  12. ^ Mack, Jon (2008), "Antisocial Behaviour Closure Orders, Injunctions, and Possession: Refining the Law", Landlord & Tenant Review, 12 (5): 169–171
  13. ^ "Trial Asks if Music Producers' Lives Imitate Gangsta Rap". The New York Times. 17 November 2005.
  14. ^ McDonnell, John (28 July 2009). "Scene and heard: Crack house". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Movie Reviews". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Spike Lee's Inferno, the Drug Underworld". The New York Times.
  17. ^ "Play It Again, Spike". The New York Times. 26 March 2006.