Detroit police shut down gas station for selling drug paraphernalia

Detroit police are aggressively trying to stop the sale of heroin in the city of Detroit for a second straight day.

Police say gas station owner Mike Ajami wasn't actually selling drugs, they say he was selling drug set up kits with a glass pipe, steel wool and lighter rolled up in a brown bag for $5.

On  Wednesday police shut down a Sunoco gas station on Eight Mile as Chief James Craig and the owner had words on camera.

Police closed Ajami's east side John R. Gas & Mart for selling the set up kits packaged for smoking crack.

"It's closed effective immediately," Police Chief James Craig said.

"Can I see why," Ajami said.

"What did I do wrong," Ajami said. "Is this a drug, sir?"

"I didn't say it was a drug," Craig said. "It's paraphernalia."

"It's not the drugs," Ajami said. "If people want it, I have to sell it."

The station was closed just 24 hours after Detroit police, Oakland county sheriffs, the FBI and Michigan State Police raided a dozen Detroit homes and businesses along Woodward Tuesday.

In that sweep, police took heroin, cocaine, marijuana and nine guns. Police made 12 arrests and took 150 pieces of drug paraphernalia.

"They were for sale," Craig said. "Out in a rolled up bag. The people using illegal drugs come in knowing they can get a set up or a brown bag."

Watching Craig signing and slapping a yellow business closure sign out front, owner Mike Ajami says it's not fair for him to be singled out.

"Give me a warning and I'm not selling it anymore," he said. "That's it."

"Go down (Eight Mile) or anywhere. Everybody is selling that."

If everyone else is doing it, Erika Erickson went to check it out.

"Everybody else is doing it, I'm not doing it," said Mark Arabo, the owner of a nearby liquor store. "That's dumb. You don't do stuff like that. It's already hard to make a living, you going to make it that way?"

A second store was checked out and no set up kits were found. The clerk explained that they are illegal.

While surely there are plenty of gas stations and  party stores doing the same thing ...

"We believe the action today is going to be a deterrent," Craig said. "If they are operating outside of the law, they should know we're coming."

Some neighbors didn't enjoy watching Ajami forced to walk away from his store.

"For you to sit here and shut a guy's business down," said David, a customer. "It doesn't make sense."

"Just bags alone isn't a reason to close a business that sells food to the community," said J.T., another frustrated customer.

But plenty of others say that you have to start somewhere.

"They have to get drugs off the street," said John, a neighbor. "So if Detroit police have to shut down an establishment, it's a plus."

Craig said he will continue to target party stores and gas stations helped in large part, by tips from the community.


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