- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - When the suspected head of a major Atlanta-area drug-trafficking organization had money to spare, the 42-year-old often did what other amateur investors, venture capitalists and businessmen do: He bought blighted real estate in the city’s struggling neighborhoods.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (https://bit.ly/2hkNw7F) reports Elgin DeMarco Jordan’s criminal prosecution for drug dealing helped lift the veil on how a single owner can impact a community.

Jordan and his associates bought up a section of the Grove Park neighborhood in northwest Atlanta, where he spent most of his life, plus a half-dozen other properties in the city’s poorer areas. Prosecutors said there were 21 properties altogether, with an estimated taxable value at $1.5 million.

The real estate was seized as part of a multi-agency effort to halt drug sales in “The Bluff,” known as a Southeastern heroin hub. Jordan forfeited most of them when he was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for drug and money laundering charges.

“I got so many properties, I can’t think sometimes,” Jordan, 42, told an undercover agent, a federal court filing states.

Prosecutors said they hope the seizures will loosen drug dealing’s grip on the affected neighborhoods.

“When a drug dealer has the resources and abilities to more deeply insinuate himself into a community through ownership of properties and businesses . the more visible he can become, and the more he may feel part of the fabric of the neighborhood,” U.S. Attorney John Horn told the newspaper. “And the more difficult it is for law enforcement to extract that component and allow the neighborhood be a healthy and safe community again.”

But Jordan’s defenders say he was just a real estate investor who went astray.

Before drug addiction took hold of him, he was admired at North Eugenia Place, where he lived and owned most of his property.

“But for these drugs, this was a local hero in that area of the city,” said Akil Secret, Jordan’s longtime attorney. “He was somebody who rose from very humble beginnings to being a productive businessman in that community.”

Secret said his client was no kingpin. However, one confidential informant said he worked as a major supplier as early as 1997, selling eight to 10 kilos of cocaine at a time for as much as $24,000 each, a federal forfeiture filing states.

Jordan majored in business at Atlanta Technical College, but left after one year to work in construction fixing and selling old homes.

Over the years, Jordan invested proceeds from his illegal drug activity in real estate, a confidential informant told investigators, court records show. Some of the properties were acquired under “A New Way of Living,” a company prosecutors said was linked to him. During the real estate bust, he was snapping up properties for as little as $1,800 each.

The appeal was location, Jordan told an undercover agent who posed as a potential buyer for one site. There is “a lot of revitalization,” occurring, he said, according a court filing.

He lived on North Eugenia Place in a rundown condo he owned and his grandmother lived in a brick house steps away, an informant told investigators.

Jordan sold drugs on North Eugenia Place too, investigators said.

During a 2015 search of one of his properties, authorities found what appeared to be heroin, cocaine and hashish, scales and, under a pillow in the master bedroom, a semi-automatic handgun, court records state. That June, Jordan pleaded guilty to counts of money laundering and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.

Prosecutors returned seven of the 21 properties that had been seized from Jordan as part of a plea agreement.

On a recent afternoon, most of the dozen North Eugenia houses and condos that investigators tied to Jordan stood empty or boarded up, but others looked well-kept. Residents approached by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said they knew of Jordan, but declined to speak about him.

A demolition team tore down a condemned apartment building with three condos tied to Jordan. Workers said it would be gone in a week.

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Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, https://www.ajc.com


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