Theresa Anderson’s neighbors loved her. For them, she was a beacon of her community, keeping a clean home as well as order on her street for the last 12 years.
Since she’s been gone, crime has risen and robberies and prostitution have become more commonplace. But Anderson, a 58-year-old grandmother who owned 10 houses on Buffalo’s east side, is also alleged to be the local crack cocaine dealer, running the operation with many of her relatives.
According to a federal indictment, Anderson and eight other people are charged with running what prosecutors call the Anderson Drug Traffficking Organization. Beginning in 2000, the family began to purchase property in a poor area of Buffalo, which allowed them to gain a monopoly on crack sales in the neighborhood. Before long, through threats and intimidation, they wrested complete control of the local drug market.
The operation was busted when a SWAT team raided it in February 2012. Anderson pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges in June and is expected to be sentenced to more than 17 years in prison this week. But despite her being a crack queen-pin, her neighbors say they were better off with her there.
“I actually felt safer. Now my place has been broken into,” Debra Walker told the Associated Press. Another neighbor, Deanna Gresko, says because Anderson’s group employed lookouts, cleaned up empty lots and kept crime down, the neighborhood was more secure with her in power. Now prostitutes and pimps have invaded, and properties have become disheveled.
Although neighbors still want her there, Buffalo Common Council member David Franczyk says Anderson was still a detriment.
“It’s like the old days of Prohibition when you looked for the mob to keep order on your street,” he told the AP. “But it’s a false sense of security. She’s bringing criminals into the neighborhood.”