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Mobile cannabis dispensary seized in Sunnyside, illegal scooter crackdowns continue: DA

The Green Empress was impounded in Sunnyside by police from the 108th Precinct and detectives from the Queens DA’s office last week. Photo courtesy of the NYPD

June 17, 2024 By Bill Parry

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Friday the takedown of an illegal cannabis dispensary operating out of a converted school bus in Sunnyside.

Anthony Stevens, 62, of Brooklyn, was charged on Thursday with unlawful sale of cannabis and other crimes after his vehicle was impounded in a joint operation between her office and the 108th Precinct in Long Island City.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz was at the scene when an illegal cannabis dispensary was impounded in Sunnyside. Confiscated product was heavily marketed towards children. Photo courtesy of the DA’s Office

The seized product was determined to be overtly marketed towards children, with names such as “Skittles,” “Gummy Sharks” and “Jolly Ranchers,” and packaging nearly identical to snacks popular with kids.

Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

“You cannot operate a cannabis dispensary that is unregulated and marketed toward our children,” Katz said after the vehicle called “The Green Empress” was seized at the corner of 43rd Street and Queens Boulevard, where it was often parked behind the 7-Eleven store at the location.

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

During the investigation, undercover detectives from the DA’s office made controlled purchases of cannabis from the truck on several occasions. On June 12, her detectives and officers from the 108th Precinct executed a court-authorized search warrant of the mobile dispensary and seized more than two pounds of cannabis that was packaged in various ways.

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

“Unlicensed marijuana sellers have become the subject of numerous community complaints because the unregulated product is often targeted to young people and has actually sickened customers,” Katz said. “Such dispensaries also evade tax revenue for public services and undercut legal vendors who prioritize safety and compliance.”

Stevens was also charged with unlawful possession of cannabis and criminal possession of cannabis. He received a desk appearance ticket and was ordered to return to court on July 2.

The takedown operation last week was part of the DA’s ongoing efforts to rid Queens of illegal cannabis dispensaries, whether operating out of trucks and vans or brick-and-mortar commercial locations.

Since November 2022, enforcement operations have resulted in the prosecution of 286 offenders for felony-related charges for the sale and/or possession of cannabis and controlled substances in Queens. More than $7.5 million worth of illegal cannabis products has been seized from nearly 320 suspected illegal cannabis dispensaries and a total of 79 shops in Queens have been padlocked as of May through the assistance of the NYC Sheriff’s Office and the NYPD.

“My office will continue to crack down on illegal dispensaries that pose a serious threat to public health,” Katz said, adding that her office has initiated eviction proceedings under the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law against 31 brick-and-mortar stores operating as illegal smoke shops.

Katz also announced that her office and police from four NYPD precincts concluded a four-day crackdown that seized 99 scooters parked illegally on the sidewalks and in the streets of South Jamaica, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

The vast majority were unregistered and uninsured and an additional five scooters were confiscated after their operators were stopped while driving including one at the intersection of 135th Avenue and 140th Street in South Ozone Park. The scooter was determined to have been reported stolen and the operator was apprehended at the scene.

Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

“Illegal scooters have become a significant concern in our city, as we see them increasingly being used while carrying out violent crimes,” Katz said. “They are also an affront to law-abiding New Yorkers who take the time to register, insure and maintain their vehicles on our roadways.”

Since joint operations in February, 515 scooters, two motorcycles and one dirt bike have been removed from Queens neighborhoods.

“In partnership with the NYPD, we have successfully removed more than 500 of these illegal vehicles from our streets, enhancing community safety,” Katz said. “Our enforcement actions will continue.”

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