Queens South Narcotics Squad raids illegal smoke shop in Howard Beach

The NYPD raids an illegal smoke shop next door to Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato’s Howard Beach Office.
Courtesy of Pheffer Amato’s office

Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato witnessed firsthand the NYPD’s latest crackdown on illicit operations in her own backyard. The raid, led by the Queens South Narcotics Squad, happened at Howard Puff Convenience on March 7, a mere stone’s throw from Pheffer Amato’s Howard Beach office at 159-55 102nd St.

The Narcotics Squad seized more than 30 pounds of unlicensed marijuana products from the premises along with more than 400 packs of untaxed cigarettes.

The store manager on site, Abdullah Almassabi, 18, of the Bronx was arrested and charged with criminal possession of cannabis and other crimes.

“I am grateful to the constituents who constantly contacted our office which allowed us to provide additional details to the police,” Pheffer Amato said.

Those details led the Queens South Narcotics Squad to send an undercover officer into the shop on March 1 where he purchased a ziplock bag containing marijuana and another ziplock bag containing infused edibles for $65, according to the criminal complaint. The unit secured the search warrant and raided the store just before 5:00 p.m. on March 7.

“On behalf of our community, I thank the amazing and diligent work of the NYPD and Queens South Narcotics as their hard work is stopping these illegal shops. The police and my office will continue to work together in tandem to change the laws. We will shut down the illegal stores.”

Council Member Joann Ariola was on hand having assisted the NYPD on a raid of the same shop last fall.

Council Member Joann Ariola returned to the shop she had closed down last fall and pushed legislation in Albany sponsored by her colleagues in South Queens.Courtesy of Ariola’s office

“We are sending a clear message with these raids: we will not deal with illegal, unlicensed smoke shops peddling unregulated goods in our communities,” Ariola said, pivoting to her support of legislation pending in the state legislature sponsored by two of her colleagues in government from South Queens.

“Now we need Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Sen. Comrie’s SMOKEOUT Act to pass in Albany, to give our law enforcement agencies more teeth when it comes to handling illegal retailers.”

Under the legislation, municipalities across the state, including New York City, would be granted the authority to immediately shutter all illegal, unlicensed smoke shops.

“This is something which I am fully supporting in City Hall through Resolution 0027, which calls on Albany to pass the act,” Ariola said. “Once that passes, we can finally take necessary action and shut down these bad actors for good.”

Almassabi was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on a complaint charging him with criminal possession of cannabis, selling untaxed cigarettes and tobacco products and unlawful sale of cannabis.

Abdullah Almassabi, 18, of the Bronx, was arrested and charged with criminal possession of cannabis and other crimes.Courtesy of Pheffer Amato’s office