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Date of Issue: September 28, 2006

Cortez to face 'crack problem'

cortez crack house
Above, an abandoned home in Cortez, one of the alleged crack houses. NewsManatee Photo: Craig Herbert

Over the years, a vacant house here and there in Cortez has been taken over as a "crack house," sort of an illegal headquarters where drugs are sold and consumed.

One such house at 12116 45th Ave. W. appears abandoned. It has old fish nets hanging in a side yard and most of the windows are broken.

"But it isn't abandoned," a confidential source and Cortez resident, said. "I've seen people going in and out of there as recently as a couple of days ago. They're not secretive about it, either. I've seen them out in the yard openly smoking 'crack.' They're in and out of there all the time," the source claims.

According to Manatee County records, the owner is Julian P. Culbreath of Cortez.

The house is well known to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Records show deputies were there in July on a patrol request in reference to drug activity. Prior to that, deputies conducted another patrol request in September 2005.

The sheriff's office isn't there more often because, as residents claim, they’re afraid to get involved, for fear of retaliation.

Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann, herself a resident and business owner in Cortez, has arranged an Oct. 12 community forum with law enforcement, the state attorney’s office and judicial officials to address the drug problem.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the newly renovated 1912 Cortez Schoolhouse, 4415 119th St. W. publisher Mike Quinn contributed to this story.