For years, the 17-unit apartment building that sits at 4810 Quarles St. NE has been trouble: a round-the-clock market for marijuana, ecstasy and other drugs, according to police. In the neighborhood, the building came to be known as "The Carter," after the drug-infested housing complex depicted in the 1991 film "New Jack City."

But fearful as they were, fed-up neighbors kept calling the police, who kept coming out{ndash}more than 100 times in just the last year alone{ndash}and slowly, they have driven off much of the drug activity.

Now, with the help of the local prosecutors, the neighborhood and the commanders of the 6th Police District hope to rid the building of the remaining criminal activity and ensure that it never again regains its notoriety.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed a civil complaint in D.C. Superior Court against the owner of the property, asking a judge to order the landlord to do what he has so far been unwilling to do: "abate the drug-related activities."

Filed under the D.C. Drug Related Nuisance Abatement Act, the complaint asks the judge to order the landlord to make repairs to the "deteriorating structure," to install security measures and to hire guards to clear the building.

An initial hearing in the case, which is before Judge John M. Campbell, is scheduled for Monday morning.

Reached at his Silver Spring office, Benjamin Haynes Aiken of Aiken Four Properties, the property owner, declined to comment. "It's an ongoing case," he said.

In its 11-page complaint, the U.S. Attorney's Office recounts the troubled history of the building, which is in the Deanwood section of Northeast. Situated near Interstate 295, the building was an easy stop for customers commuting in and out of the District, and they came, day and night, every day, according to authorities.

A community leader said buyers would pull up in cars bearing tags from as far away as Delaware and Pennsylvania. The dealers owned the streets. "This was a notorious spot," said the community leader, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Since the police began cracking down hard on the dealers earlier this year, some dealers have threatened neighborhood residents they suspect of working with the police, according to law enforcement officials and residents. "I don't want them to know I'm one of the ones putting them in," said the community leader, who has suffered property vandalism since joining efforts to remove drug dealers.

Last year, police were sent to the building 138 times. Over a 26-month period ending earlier this year, 36 people were arrested at the building, all of them on drug charges, and nine of them on weapons charges.

The building was too big a problem to be left alone, said Inspector Joel Maupin, second-in-command in the 6th District, which includes Deanwood. Only five of the 17 apartments are even legally occupied. "This property was a haven for drug users and drug sellers," Maupin said.

Across the street is a day-care center, and down the street is Ronald Brown Middle School, which only increased the risk. "A lot of children have to pass that way," Maupin said.

The efforts of the police have made a difference, the community leader said. "You see people walking in the streets now. You see children playing in the little playground."

But neighbors and police both say that without decisive action against the building, the problems will return. Last summer the landlord agreed to prepare a written plan for the building, but he never did, according to prosecutors, who turned to the courts.

"Property owners have a responsibility to their tenants and their community," U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. said in a statement. "Residents should not be held hostage in their neighborhoods by thugs and drug dealers, or those who enable them."

"This property was a haven for drug users and drug sellers," says D.C. police Inspector Joel R. Maupin, above, of the 17-unit building at 4810 Quarles St. NE.