In a city that once led the nation in homicides per capita, New Orleans’s landscape of abandoned houses after Hurricane Katrina is being incorporated into a revived drug trade, with the empty dwellings offering a convenience to dealers returning from Houston and Atlanta, reports the New York Times. “It’s not as plentiful as it was,” says Police Capt. Timmy Bayard. But “we’re starting to grab some people.” His men, searching abandoned houses, have found drug stashes. He said it was like “looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Two shootings, one fatal, occurred in January and earlier this month. Parasol’s, an old-line bar in the Irish Channel neighborhood, was held up at midnight recently. In Houston, which reported a sharp spike in killings after Hurricane Katrina, police have noticed a decline since the beginning of the year. Homicides were up 24 percent in 2005, but Houston officials say the number would have been down 2 percent, absent cases in which either the suspect or the victim was a storm evacuee. New Orleans appears to be drawing the people who wreaked havoc on its streets before the storm.