Seven small corner stores in Syracuse are under fire after an investigation revealed they were buying stolen merchandise from larger retailers, and then jacking up the prices to re-sell to their customers.
Eight people were arrested, associated with several store raids conducted on the city's north side. Police expect to make at least one other arrest soon. Tips, and complaints from members of the local retail coalition triggered the investigation.
Over the course of six months, Syracuse Police say store clerks were buying and selling stolen merchandise such as baby formula, energy drinks, cigarettes and electronics, from big retailers such as Wegmans, Walgreens, Tops and Target.
Detectives sent informants into the stores, with numerous items purchased bought from these large retailers. The informants would offer to sell the "stolen" products to store clerks. When they came to an agreement on the price, the informant would bring the cash back to detectives. The money was turned in as evidence.
A short time after, the informant would return to the store, where they found the items sold as "stolen" goods were stocked and priced - in some cases - as high as four times more than what the clerks paid for the items.
Clerks were charged with attempted criminal possession of stolen property, and a local law - a second hand no-dealer license, depending on the circumstances of their transactions with the informants.
In all, Syracuse Police say there were 40 charges. State Police and special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit helped in the investigation.
Police recovered the synthetic drug spike from Al's Market during this sting operation.
The following individuals from the listed convenience stores are all due in court Monday, January 6.
Daddy's Place - 339 Wolf St, Syracuse
Ali Alshaikh, 39
Johnny 5 Inc - 1012 Park St, Syracuse
Aziz Nagi, 36
Bassem Omran, 38
Valero Gas - 1131 N. Salina Street, Syracuse
Adel Hassan, 39
#1 Convenience Store - 1000 Butternut Street, Syracuse
Marwan Zahran, 46
Al's Market - 448 Hawley Ave, Syracuse*
Emmanuel Nyeijohn, 25
*Police say there is another suspect involved, but have not arrested that person at this time.
Upstate Market - 124 Merriman Ave, Syracuse
Khaled Obaid, 34
1st North Market - 717 Kirkpatrick Street, Syracuse
Ahmad Salman, 25