What Is a Trap House? – Get to Know About it

The question “What Is a Trap House?” confuses many people. Most of the time, the response is nothing more than a blank look on their faces. Today’s content will explain what this term is and what it denotes. If this question has ever dumbfounded you, this article will make everything clear to you once and for all.

The term “trap house” can be defined as the place where illicit drugs are routinely sold. Other terms used interchangeably in its place are “crack house” and “drug house.” A major component of the illegal drug economy, drug houses also serve as shelters for addicts. While they seek refuge there, drug users can also deal with them for some much-needed money. In this way, the house becomes a “trap house.”

What Is a Trap House, and why is it named like that?

The term “trap” denotes how drug users are “trapped” in this house and have no choice but to deal drugs. Apart from the usual drug peddling, some trap houses also become drug laboratories and manufacturing centers. Most of the time, a closer inspection of a crack house reveals much more going on between the four walls than first thought.

So, what is a trap house? While drug dealing and the squatting of addicts are everyday occurrences at a trap house, the place is also a storage area for drugs of all kinds. Concealing illegal cultivation is one more activity that drug pushers and small-time dealers carry out at a trap house from time to time.

Trap Houses in the United States

Back in the 1980s, inner-city neighborhoods in America experienced many seismic shifts. Phenomena like white flight planned shrinkage and redlining significantly altered many areas’ living dynamics. Moreover, the authorities withdrew services like garbage collection while police and fire safeguards of the housing stock declined in quality and size.

Over time, hundreds of fires erupted in North and West Philadelphia, South Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Flushing, West and South Baltimore, South Jamaica, and Brownsville, turning residential blocks into blazing infernos.

As these incidents became routine, the authorities picked all the same neighborhoods to set up homeless shelters, drug rehab centers, and public housing blocks. This increased poverty, as more needy people, were put up in these welfare projects. Simultaneously, a shrinking middle-class population meant that the number of impoverished households increased steadily.

The Origin of Trap Houses

As mentioned earlier, difficult living conditions in the areas proved fertile ground for one industry: the illegal drug trade. Crippling poverty in many homes meant that vulnerable young people would practically do anything for a few extra bucks, and the drug business offered many an easy way out of poverty.

While few remaining community organizations in these neighborhoods despaired, the drug trade thrived. Buildings abandoned due to fires or left in decay due to neglect became the perfect sanctuaries for drug dealers, and businesses boomed. They didn’t have to pay rent in those places, and hardly anyone ever came. Since no rent was due, there were no paper trails (rent receipts or proof of payments) that would put them in the crosshairs of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

With the sale of illegal and illicit drugs rising, these areas also attracted other forms of violent crime. At the same time, the exodus of people continued unabated. Families that had the financial resources grabbed the first opportunity that came their way and left the neighborhood for good.

Amidst all this, one interesting phenomenon emerged. There were incidents of enraged citizens setting fire to the crack houses hoping that destroying the huge cache of drugs would force the peddlers out of these neighborhoods. While most people jumped at the chance to leave such surroundings behind, some took it upon themselves to do something about the illegal drug trade.

It’s a whole other question about how successful this strategy proved. On the face of it, most inner cities in the United States today have thriving crack houses. The law enforcement agencies raid them from time to time, but the complete elimination of such places doesn’t seem to get any closer.

Trap Houses in the United Kingdom

On the other side of the Atlantic, a different strategy is in play for dealing with trap houses. In England and Wales, strong legislation gives the police and local agencies the authority to shut down crack houses known to cause nuisance and disorder within a community.

Most drug dealers tend to take over abandoned homes in social housing projects. Compared to the US, the British have more robust legislation to deal with the menace of trap houses. But, here again, the intended target hasn’t quite been achieved.

While laws such as crack house closure orders were formulated to clamp down on Class A drug offenses, the evidence suggests that the most affected people were the socially-housed tenants. When a crack house closure order is served, the premises are sealed, and no one is allowed to enter for three months. The police can get it extended to 6 on the application. On the face of it, the legislation seems to be doing more harm than good.

Final Words and Intriguing Pop Culture References

Over time, trap houses have received a fair interest in the entertainment media. Hip-hop artists regularly make references to trap houses in their music. Moreover, films like Crack House feature these places prominently, while the acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad also makes multiple references to trap houses.

In short, the trap house phenomenon seems to be here to stay. Not only have the authorities been unable to root out the problem, but it has also now become a popular theme in the world of showbiz and entertainment.

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