The Watsonville police chief still has his street smarts.
Chief Manny Solano was helping other officers dismantle the police department's float in a Freedom Boulevard shopping center parking lot Wednesday when he noticed a nearby 99 cents store making several quick sales back-to-back, including one to a man Solano knows is a drug user.
Solano asked the store owner, 68-year-old Kwang Shin Chun, to show an example of what he had been selling. Chun produced a glass meth pipe.
"He’s selling under-the-counter meth pipes," Solano said.
Solano's investigative eye led to the seizure of 183 methamphetamine smoking pipes and the arrest of the store owner, police reported. The discount store is in the Alta Vista Shopping Center at 1459 Freedom Blvd.
Chun was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. Solano said police also contacted city officials about the incident "to see what impact this may have on his ability to operate a business."
Sales of illegal items, including pipes and knives, have been an ongoing concern in Watsonville. Two years ago, a pair of Watsonville brothers who operate three cigarette stores in the city were sentenced to probation after pleading no contest to charges of possession of illegal weapons and drug paraphernalia. Police had discovered the brothers were selling switchblade knives, brass knuckles and glass pipes—all illegal—while conducting a decoy operation targeting the sale of tobacco products to minors.
Solano said Master Officer Leo Kafer continues to do decoy checks, especially on alcohol and tobacco shops.
"I have a sinking suspicion we may need to explore our discount stores," Solano said. He added, "We’re really looking for any information about other stores that may selling illegal pipes.”
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