DA charges operators of unlicensed mobile cannabis dispensary in Rockaway Park

DA Melinda Katz charges two Rockaway Park men for operating an unlicensed cannabis dispensary near the NYC Ferry landing. (Courtesy of DA’s office)

Two Rockaway Park men were charged with operating an unlicensed mobile cannabis dispensary and their converted school bus was impounded by the New York City Sheriff’s Office, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Thursday, Dec. 15.

Omar Herrera, 32, and David Reilly, 47, both of Beach 105th Street, were charged in a 57-count complaint charging them with criminal sale of cannabis, criminal sale of cannabis, unlawful sale of cannabis and unlawful possession of cannabis. Herrera and Reilly allegedly operated their business, Beach Boyz Buds, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. while parked across Beach Channel Drive from the NYC Ferry landing at Beach 108th Street — less than two blocks away from two neighborhood schools — to attract business from passengers getting on and off the Rockaway Ferry.

According to the complaint, the operation of the business was conducted without the required authorization from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management. During an investigation by the DA’s office and the sheriff’s office, undercover officers made purchases from Herrera and Reilly, including more than 2.5 pounds of cannabis plant; more than 40 pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes and cigars; nine THC vaporizer “pens”; cannabis edible gummy candies; and approximately 2 grams of raw concentrated cannabis oil.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14, members of the DA’s Detective Bureau and the sheriff’s office executed a court-authorized search warrant in the dispensary and seized over a pound of the cannabis plant, 274 pre-rolled joints, 49 bags of cannabis edibles and other items for sale.

(Courtesy of DA’s office)

“Stores, trucks and other outlets currently selling recreational marijuana are doing so illegally,” Katz said. “What consumers are buying from these sellers is not regulated and most certainly has not been tested by the state. Private testing has found that the cannabis products sold through these illegal operations often contain harmful contaminants. And the illegal dealers are undercutting the legal sellers before they are even able to get started, translating into lost tax revenue and lost funding for essential public services.”

Katz launched the investigation after Councilwoman Joann Ariola and members of the community lodged complaints about the operators.

“The owners of this unlicensed operation were thumbing their nose at local law enforcement for months as they peddle their goods to the visitors of the peninsula,” Ariola said following Wednesday’s seizure. “Marijuana is, whether we like it or not, legal in the city of New York, but selling it requires a proper license. This isn’t so the city can ‘get their cut’ as so many opponents of today’s impounding allege. Instead, this is something meant to keep all New Yorkers safe by ensuring that proper protocols are followed — for example, that distributors do not sell to children, or near schools, parks, libraries or religious institutions. We can’t have people openly skirting around the laws, and today’s action sends that message clearly.”

(Courtesy of DA’s office)

The sheriff’s office took part in a two-week interagency pilot conducting enforcement against unlicensed establishments selling cannabis, cannabis-infused edibles, illegal vaping products, illegal cigarettes and other illegal tobacco products. The operation resulted in the seizure of more than $4 million worth of products being sold illegally and the issuance of 566 civil and criminal summonses.

“The sheriff’s office will continue to work collaboratively with all of our law enforcement partners to address this public safety crisis in order to protect all New Yorkers,” Miranda said. “While the city has an obligation to support legal dispensaries, many stores in each borough continue to break the law by selling unregulated products which are dangerous and often marketed to children. We will continue to work with our partners to take enforcement actions against those who sell this contraband and evade taxes. The sheriff’s office thanks Queens District Attorney Katz and her staff for their diligent work on this joint investigation and we will continue to partner with her office to address these public safety issues.”