Police raided a Fruit Belt food store Monday, thinking they would find illegal guns. They found some weapons, but police said they also found something else – more than $100,000 in counterfeit trademark clothing.
Hats, sneakers, jackets, belts and other apparel were seized along with $25,000 in cash believed to be profits from sales of the bootleg clothing. The clothing had fake labels from Air Jordan, Champion, Coach, the National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. There were more than 1,000 New York Yankees baseball hats alone amid the boxes of clothing filling the warehouse, police said.
A loaded 9 mm handgun and a magazine containing 30 rounds for an AK-47 rifle also were confiscated in the raid at the Citywide Food Market at the corner of Virginia and Maple streets. SWAT team members and Intelligence Unit Detectives Earl Perrin and Craig Leone attempted to enter the store at 9 p.m., but the owner refused to unlock the door.
At that point, SWAT members forced their way in, and a search was conducted by the detectives along with members of several other police units, including Narcotics, Housing, Strike Force and K-9.
Police also found an illegal drug known as khat, a stimulant, and stolen property – shirts and jackets that had been taken from area clothing stores.
Ali Mussa, 36, of Depew, was identified as the owner and manager of Citywide Food Market. He was charged with first-degree trademark counterfeiting, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Perrin and Leone obtained the search warrant from City Judge Craig Hannah after developing information that there might be illegal weapons in the store. In addition, Officers Craig Macy and Joseph Hassett of the Housing Unit were given special credit for assisting the Intelligence Unit with information that resulted in the start of the investigation.