Drug dealers have taken over 73rd Street, residents say

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Paul Martinka/ photographer

Residents of 73rd Street say cops are doing nothing to stop the hoodlums who have turned their street into a hotspot for drug activity and violence.

Neighbors say drug deals and groups of teens smoking pot have become regular sights between Fifth and Sixth avenues — which is around the corner from a public school — at all hours of the day and night.

“This seems to be a little mecca for that kind of activity,” said John Sommer, who said he’s had to repeatedly tell groups of weed-smoking young men to stop hanging out in front of his home. “You see certain cars parked, or double-parked for a while, then another car will come in and they’ll stop and there will be a trade.”

Other residents — who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisals — echoed Sommer’s story.

“I leave for work sometimes at 4 and 5 am and there’s groups of them still out here,” said one resident, who has also seen drug deals between drivers. “I feel bad, because there’s a lot of kids around here.”

One woman said members of the violent crews assaulted a young man across the street from her house.

“They beat the guy up and they broke something, a flower pot I guess, over his head,” the woman said, claiming that the problem is only getting worse. “This summer I noticed there’s a lot more people hanging out, dealing. I’d really like to see more beat cops around.”

Community Board 10 staffers have received numerous complaints about drug dealing on 73rd Street and on a few of the surrounding blocks, and have passed the tips to the 68th Precinct, but neighbors say they’ve been calling the cops for some time — without results.

“I’ve called them 20 times, and only once have I gotten a response,” one man said. “These kids rule everything and the police do absolutely nothing about it.”

A cop reportedly told the resident that they don’t have enough cops to watch the block on a regular basis — something he finds hard to believe given the NYPD’s overwhelming response to the murders of store owners Isaac Kadare and Mohamad Gebeli earlier this summer.

“Those shopkeepers get killed, and we got cops all up and down Fifth Avenue, but we make a complaint about these kids, and they say they don’t have the manpower,” he said.

Another woman said that there are more cops on Fifth Avenue than ever before, but the increased police presence has not discouraged drug dealing. She even claimed she saw a drug deal go down right around the corner from a parked police cruiser.

“You go up to these cop cars and say, ‘Hey this is going on,’ and they don’t do nothing. They can’t leave their detail,” the woman said.

Repeated calls to the 68th Precinct for comment were not returned.