Tattoo shop loses license

Published 3:46 pm Friday, May 4, 2012

City officials in East Brewton did their part Thursday night in shutting down a business by revoking the business license held for the shop.

East Brewton Police closed Murder Creek Ink, a tattoo and piercing business in East Brewton, a week ago following a raid. In the raid seven people were arrested on a variety of drug charges as well as public intoxication charges.

Mayor Terry Clark said the revocation of the license is just the first step in keeping business like Murder Creek Ink from operating in the city.

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“We want business in East Brewton, but this isn’t the kind of business we want,” Clark said. “We need to make sure they don’t do business here anymore and keep these kinds of businesses from coming into our city.”

Members of the council voted unanimously to revoke the business license held for Murder Creek Ink by owner Joseph Moore. The group also took steps to meet with variance board members and zoning board members to put an ordinance in place to deny licenses to businesses similar to Murder Creek Ink.

“We already have an ordinance that doesn’t allow pool halls and that kind of thing in the city,” Clark said. “We need an ordinance that would keep tattoo parlors out of the city as well.”

During Thursday night’s called meeting of the council, East Brewton Police Chief Kenneth Brazil presented information on last week’s raid to help aid members in making their decision to keep the business closed.

“We began taking a close look at the activity at Murder Creek Ink a couple of months ago,” Brazil said. “We had been getting tips from the public about drug activity going on at the business. As we began investigating, we were also receiving tips that there were strippers putting on shows there and also that there was possibly some prostitution going on there.

Brazil said the months-long surveillance of the establishment turned up interesting information concerning the patrons of the shop.

“As we watched people come and go, we noticed some people who we saw going in and out of there that had prior drug records,” Brazil said. “We were seeing these people there at different times. Crowds would gather there anywhere from 8 or 9 p.m. and be there until 4 or 5 a.m.:

On the night of the raid, Brazil said officers with his department as well as Brewton Police Department, broke up activity that had drawn more than 20 people to the shop.

“When we started breaking up the crowd and rounding up suspects, someone made the comment to us that we had gotten there just a little too early,” Brazil said. “We were told that strippers were expected to be at the shop about 30 minutes after we got there. The crowd we saw were people gathering up to watch the show.”

Brazil said one suspect fled from the parking lot into the shop when they arrived on the scene just before midnight April 27.

“One suspect, Darrel Lane, ran inside the building when we got there and he was tossing things from his pockets as he ran,” Brazil said. “We tackled him inside the shop and was able to subdue him. During our search in the shop and in the area where Lane had been, we recovered crack, marijuana and cocaine. We had about 10 people inside the building who were intoxicated.”

Brazil said the owner of the shop denied any knowledge concerning the activity going on or being planned.

“He told us he didn’t know there was drinking or drugs being used in the shop,” Brazil said. “He said he was in the back working when we came in. There is only a curtain separating his work area from where all of this activity was taking place. I find it hard to believe he couldn’t hear what was happening.”

Clark said a meeting to consider ordinance changes would be planned in the coming weeks.