WOODLAWN — Police pulled aside a secret panel in a Woodlawn convenience store over the weekend and found a stash of 50 unstamped cigarette packs.
The find was one of eight over the weekend where police and inspectors from the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection found stashes of cigarettes, drug paraphernalia and guns stashed in convenience stores across the city.
At Food Mart, 400 E. 61st St., inspectors found the cigarettes, which were allegedly being sold untaxed, after they removed a wooden panel made to look like the wall and discovered a secret compartment.
At Maryland Public Wholesale, 824 E. 79th St., it never got as complicated as specially made compartments. There inspectors slide back the sign on a cooler and found 19 packs of unstamped cigarette packs stacked up.
As much as $6.16 of the price of a pack of cigarettes is taxes paid to the state, Cook County and the city and the stamp on the bottom of a pack indicates those taxes are included in the price. Packs without the stamp are often from just over the state line in Indiana, where the tax is 99 cents per pack.
Eight of 11 businesses inspected were cited over the weekend for selling untaxed cigarette packs, selling loose cigarettes or selling baggies that police alleged were for packaging drugs.
One Way Tobacco & Cellular, 3965 W. Irving Park Road, got hit with citations for selling liquor without a license, having drug paraphernalia in the store and having a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, ammo and a 12-round magazine in the store.
The Chicago Police Department was not immediately able to say whether there were any criminal charges for the gun or other issues.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said 61 citations were issued over the weekend and 208 packs of untaxed cigarettes and 43 loose cigarettes were seized from the stores.
A secret compartment was found by inspectors in a Woodlawn convenience store used to allegedly store untaxed cigarettes. [Courtesy of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection]