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Store owners agree to help fight gangs

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Big changes are happening in the Brays Oaks neighborhood. Neighbors say a recent crackdown against two businesses is making their community much safer.

A lawsuit accused the owners of two convenience stores of allowing criminals to take over. The stores are I & A Food Mart, located at 6060 West Bellfort, and the Albury Food Mart, at 11129 Albury. The county attorney says increased security and random inspections are all part of an agreement with those stores to help fight a serious gang problem.

Some folks in the Brays Oaks area say they've long referred to the Albury Food Mart and the nearby I & A Food Mart as neighborhood nuisances.

"It was public nuisance," said neighbor Demitra Kimble.

The convenience stores allegedly became so notoriously connected to gang activity and drug crimes within steps of an elementary school and head start center that the Harris County Attorney's Office began stepping in to crack down on the problem.

"It used to be 25-30 boys out here," Kimble said. "One got crack, the other one got weed, the other one got syrup, the other one got this, and I mean, they just be flying, cars coming up."

Now after months of lawsuits, the county attorney's office announced it has reached an agreement with owners of the two convenience stores.

First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said, "They've agreed to provide some additional security guards, provide security patrol. They've agreed to require their employees to undergo drug testing to make sure they are being properly documents."

The stores are now also required to post photos of seven men who Soard says are known Blood and Crip gang members. They're part of an ongoing drug-related lawsuit and they've been ordered to stay out of the area.

Kimble and her neighbors are calling the agreement a plus for the community. The efforts to crack down on the gang problem will continue in court back here in two weeks. That's when trials against those Blood and Crip members is set to begin.

Authorities say the Albury Food Mart is the site of a retaliatory homicide related to the shooting of well-known Houston rap artist Trae tha Truth. The rapper was shot outside a southwest Houston club following a concert; three others were killed. In July 2012, a gang member scheduled to testify in court against the shooter of Trae tha Truth was murdered in the Albury Food Mart parking lot. Another gang member has been charged with the concert shootings.

Find Demond on Facebook at ABC13DemondFernandez or on Twitter at @demondfernandez

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