CRANFORD — Following an undercover investigation by Cranford Police detectives, three local businessmen have been arrested and charged in connection with an alleged illegal narcotics distribution scheme operating out of a local convenience store.
The investigation began approximately three months ago when Det. Ryan Greco received information that synthetic marijuana, banned by New Jersey criminal statutes since March 2013, was allegedly being sold by employees of the Krauszer’s Food Store located at 299 South Avenue East.
Following multiple undercover and surveillance operations, members of the Cranford Police Department Investigative Division, assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s K-9 Unit, executed a search warrant at the business on Thursday.
As a result of the search warrant, police recovered over 100 packages of suspected synthetic marijuana with a street value exceeding $10,000. They also seized over $8,000 in suspected proceeds.
Arrested at the scene were owner Prashantk Shah, 48, of Iselin, Tusharkum Shah, 53, of Roselle Park and Bhumikkum Patel, 40, of Parlin.
Each was charged with possession of synthetic cannabinoid with intent to distribute, possession of synthetic cannabinoid with intent to distribute in a school zone, and possession of a synthetic cannabinoid over one ounce. Police noted that illegal activities took place less than 1000 feet from a nearby nursery school and day care facility.
Cranford Police Chief James Wozniak believes that the illicit operation is an offense against the whole community. “It violates the public trust,” he stated, “when illegal drugs are sold one aisle away from candy and ice cream. We hold our local businesses to a higher standard than that. The Cranford Police Department won’t tolerate the distribution of narcotics masquerading as a legitimate business in our town.”
The three suspects were processed and released pending a first appearance in superior court on April 2.