HARLEM — The manager of a Harlem deli raided last week as part of a crackdown by the NYPD, Health Department and Department of Finance was arrested and charged with drug possession, cigarette tax evasion and other charges, according to prosecutors.
Mohamed Tarat, 27, the manager of Gourmet Deli at 304 Lenox Ave., was the only person to be charged following the July 2 raid of five neighborhood bodegas in Harlem and East Harlem during which investigators netted 8,000 packets of synthetic marijuana, 114 Viagra pills, six Ziploc bags of Khat and 13,400 untaxed cigarettes, authorities said.
During the raid at Gourmet Deli, officers found more than 1,300 packs of synthetic marijuana in a display case behind the counter. They also found 67 cartons — containing 13,400 cigarettes — of Virginia Tax stamped tobacco, according to the criminal complaint.
The six Ziploc baggies of khat, an illegal narcotic African plant, were found hidden in a space inside the staircase above the deli, according to the criminal complaint.
“Those who sell this dangerous product should now be even more aware of exactly how seriously this criminal behavior will be treated,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
The city started cracking down on synthetic marijuana after 120 people were hospitalized from drug-related incidents. Health Department officials issued Commissioner’s Orders to multiple bodegas, alerting employees and managers that it is against the law to sell synthetic marijuana.
Selling synthetic marijuana is a violation but violating a Commissioner’s Orders is a misdemeanor, according to the police.
City agencies will likely continue raiding bodegas that have received the health department warnings, a police source said.
Tarat was released on his own recognizance July 3. He has a private attorney who could not be reached Tuesday evening.
His next court date is October 6.