Queens crackdown continues: CM Joann Ariola advances efforts to shut down illegal smoke shops

Ariola announces victory over illegal smoke shops with the closure of ten locations in her city council district last month.
Photos courtesy of Anthony Medina and Google Maps

The New York City Sheriff’s Department shuttered ten illegal smoke shops within Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s district last month, according to exclusive information shared by her office. 

Ariola, who represents neighborhoods in south and central Queens, such as Howard Beach and Glendale, has remained a staunch proponent of further restrictions on illegal smoke shops in the city council. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams initiated Operation Padlock to Protect in May, which authorized the Sheriff Joint Compliance Task Force to inspect and padlock unlicensed smoke shops throughout the five boroughs of NYC.

Ariola recognizes that the success in eliminating illegal cannabis shops in her district is the result of years of legislative efforts.

“Getting these unlicensed smoke shops shut down has been at the forefront of my agenda since I came into office, and now – thanks to legislation passed at the state level by my colleagues in Albany, Jenifer Rajkumar and Leroy Comrie – the NYPD and the sheriff’s office have the authority to padlock business and remove them from our neighborhoods for good,” Ariola said. 

The following smoke shops were padlocked over the course of May: 

  • Buy Buy Exotics on 96-23 Rockaway Blvd., in Ozone Park (2). 
  • 88 Cigar Convenience Corp., on 85-19 Jamaica Ave., in Woodhaven. 
  • Crossorc Cigar And Smoke Corp., on 15850 Cross Bay Blvd., in Howard Beach.
  • Convenience On Woodhaven Corp., on 87-10 Woodhaven Blvd., in Woodhaven.  
  • Top Shelf 3 Convenience Corporation, on 83-34 Woodhaven Blvd., in Glendale. 
  • 69 St Convenience Corp., on 69-06 Myrtle Ave., in Glendale. 
  • Exotic R Us Corp., on 92-18 Jamaica Ave., in Woodhaven. 
  • Mo Convenience Store Inc., on 88-01 Jamaica Ave., in Woodhaven. 
  • Metro 8955 Grocery Corp., on 89-55 Metropolitan Ave., in Glendale.

The Councilwoman’s legislative efforts, working with Council Member Lynn Schulman, allowed landlords to be held accountable for knowingly renting space to illegal cannabis operators.

In April, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the rollout of new initiatives to shut down illicit cannabis operations, giving law enforcement on the local level the ability to shut down unlicensed dispensaries. 

Her plan reflected legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar in the SMOKEOUT Act, which sought to do the same for the city and state. 

Ariola remains dedicated to her mission of eradicating illegal smoke shops in her district.

“These shops are detrimental to the quality of life in our communities,” Ariola said.  “Kudos to our law enforcement agencies for getting the job done and getting these bad actors out of District 32.”