NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police said Thursday night that a Brooklyn candy store was concealing a secret drug den.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, neighbors said they knew something was not right.
It was not business as usual at the Gates Candy & Grocery store Thursday night. Police were making sparks as they sawed off locks, and installed their own locks outside the storefront sweet shop on Gates Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The store’s awning says in addition to candy and groceries, customers can find cold soda, ice cream coffee, electronics, newspapers and cigarettes at the store. But police alleged there was a substance being sold that did not appear on the awning – they said the store doubled as a heroin mill.
“It’s crazy! It’s crazy! I would never have guessed, honestly,” said Benny Senises. “I go there to pick up chips and drinks all the time.”
Senises is a regular customer. Like most neighbors, he had no idea there was a secret room in the store behind a sheet of plywood on the back of normal display racks.
“At face value, you see what you see, but you never know what’s going on behind closed doors,” he said.
What police sources said was going on was a large-scale heroin packaging operation. A picture obtained exclusively by CBS2 shows plastic bags of what police believe is heroin, and the powerful but deadly narcotic fentanyl that is causing overdoses around the region.
Another photo shows a table with boxes of glassine drug envelopes – enough, CBS2 is told, to package more than 1 million bags of heroin.
The NYPD’s 83rd Precinct also tweeted out a photo showing a pickup truck full of scales and other wholesale drug packing materials they confiscated.
“It was shocking to almost everybody in the neighborhood,” said neighbor William Morales.
Morales said something didn’t seem right. He saw a lot of expensive cars stopping off to allegedly buy “candy” late at night, and he said the food inside the store wasn’t very appetizing.
“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.”
He said something else had to be going on in the store.
“Had to be, had to be,” he said, “but they were doing it on the down, down, very down low!”
The bust started when the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance stopped at the store on Wednesday to investigate possible illegal cigarette scales. But they allegedly found much more inside.
Two suspects were being questioned late Thursday.