Discount Store Owner Selling Meth Pipes Busted by Police Chief

Chief Manny Solano says he's worried there may be other illegal items being sold at Watsonville shops.

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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MaryEllen Valdivia July 05, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Way to go Manny!!!!! This is another reason why we don't need these type of stores in our town. The Dollar Tree and the Original 99 Cent store (which we don't have in town) are legitimate, but these other little operations that the City Council approves allows needs to stop. Oh, wait isn't there one scheduled for the Planning Commission agenda in September for a Main Street location????? Council better really think about that one.
Watzon McWats July 06, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I really hate these stores and wish they'd go away! The city needs to stop approving them. Discount stores, check cashing, payday loans, etc. They all bring our city down, and as we've found out, many of them have unscrupulous owners. Get this guy outta town!
Cathy P. July 06, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Shut these businesses down permanently, take away the owner's business license and run them out of town. These people know the difference between right and wrong, what is legal and what is illegal; how much money is changing hands illegally under the table and not being reported for tax purposes, shut them down! Great job Chief Solano.
Susan O'Day July 06, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Gee..doesn't surprise me at all...Doesn't have to be discount store owners...they sell drugs, pipes,, guns etc. out of hair salons, liquor stores, etc, etc... I applaud Manny but this is going on everywhere and he can't be everywhere!
David H. Perez July 06, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I agree with all of the above. Get rid of those slum stores and let's get our Trader Joe's! Kudos to Manny Solano - you are right on top of things as always. BTW - I have heard interesting rumors about those guys that pull the little goodie carts around town behind their bicycles. What did I hear - heroin sales maybe? I wouldn't know, though, I have never bought anything from them. Like Juan Torres said, how are they staying in business - selling 99 cent snacks???


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