Bodegas are an integral part of life in New York City. Don't believe us? Just listen to the Bronx bullies Desus Nice and the Kid Mero explain the importance of bodega cats and deli meats and you'll realize just how crucial a good corner store is to a New York neighborhood. While most bodegas stock items like cigarettes, do-rags, and Arizona iced teas, as it turns out, some stores are also key to the New York drug business. That is, until they get busted.
According to Gothamist, that's exactly what happened at Gates Candy and Grocery in Bushwick, Brooklyn this week. On Thursday, a routine search for untaxed cigarettes by the New York State Finance Department quickly led to an NYPD search warrant and the discovery of multiple bags of heroin, two full barrels of cutting agent, and several containers of the prescription painkiller fentanyl. A million glassine envelopes, typically used for packaging narcotics, were also discovered.
The contraband was found in a secret room hidden behind the stores shelves. An anonymous source told the New York Post that the inspectors noticed drug paraphernalia during the initial search, and passed the information along to the NYPD, who then found the real untaxed loot.
Authorities took a truck-load of evidence from the store, and police are still processing all of the contraband—valued at more than $100,000. Two men were arrested in the raid—one from Manhattan and one from Queens—and are now facing charges relating to criminal possession of controlled substances, criminal use of drug paraphernalia, and "operating major drug trafficking."
William Morales, who lives next door to the candy store/trap house, told CBS New York that while the bust was “shocking to almost everybody in the neighborhood,” there were some warning signs, like expensive cars stopping by the store late at night.
"They don’t have anything there fresh, or anything that I’ve seen," he said. "You know, I went there once and everything was old."
Morales reveals an important knowledge dart for those new to New York City bodegas. If there's not much on the shelves, that store is selling more than just candy.