Shelby County and state authorities charged five men and women with illegal dumping and vandalism at three North Memphis and Frayser properties.
Police say a tip from a neighbor led them to a multi-acre property filled with sheetrock, debris and trash.
The properties at located at 3449 Dillard Road, 3498 Dillard Road, and 3286 Arwine Road. A state and local investigation reported that between February 2012 and February 2013 Larry Dean Brunson, Mable Sutton and Debra Nesbit each allowed persons to pay a fee to dump refuse in illegal dumpsites established on their property.
"We all share the goal of making Shelby County safer and healthier for our citizens," said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. "Illegal dumping allowed by the property owners affects neighboring properties and all of us and will not be tolerated."
Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit are accused of allowing people to use the property to dump garbage, including old housing materials, insulation, and trash on the property.
Oneal Payne and Warren Payne, the latter who is a former contractor with Memphis, are accused of dumping leftover housing materials on the sites.
"This is a horrific site that, of course, brings down this little corner of Shelby County," said D.A. Weirich. "But much more important it impacts everyone of us who lives in Shelby County."
The five suspects are facing vandalism charges over $60,000, which is a B felony and punishable up to 40 years in prison.
"Safe and vibrant neighborhoods is a strategic priority for my administration," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. "The arrest of these individuals in the Frayser community aligns with our focus on eradicating blight across our city and maintaining clean and crime-free neighborhoods. The prosecution of these folks should send a clear message that illegal dumping will not be tolerated."
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit conducted an investigation of the properties after the Shelby County Health Department personnel responded to complaints of illegal dumping occurring in the area in January 2012.
"Construction trucks dumping back there, all kinds of trucks and garbage just dumping," said neighbor who lives across one of the illegal dumping sites. "I'm frustrated. I know that there have been people who called about it. I know that you guys were out there once before and nothing was done, so I'm glad and hope that somebody do something about it."
The TDEC and MPD OCU Investigation identified Oneal and Warren Payne of Payne Enterprises as having dumped commercial refuse in the illegal landfills.
"There's hardly a day that goes by we don't hear complaints about illegal dumping," said Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. "It's a growing problem throughout Shelby County. Today's action should be a warning to other property owners. We'll aggressively take those property owners to court who continually allow debris to be dumped on their properties."
Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter issued injunctions against each of the property owners and declared each of the properties public nuisances. Memphis Police secured the units and posted "no trespassing" signs at the properties.
The injunction orders the owners of these properties to appear in General Sessions Criminal Division XIV on May 20 to address how they will improve the conditions of their properties.
FOX13 News reporter Darcy Thomas contributed to this report.
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