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75 illegal New York City smoke shops shut down during 1st week of crackdown

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — Dozens of illegal smoke shops have been shut down across New York City during the first week of what Mayor Eric Adams calls “Operation Padlock to Protect.”

The task force which includes the NYPD, the sheriff’s office, and the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has shut down 75 illegal smoke shops and has also issued nearly $6 million in penalties, and nearly 4,000 violations.

The mayor has vowed to shut down smoke shops selling illegal cannabis products.

There are approximately 2,900 illegal smoke shops in New York City.

One location on 6th Ave and 12th Street racked up $84,000 worth of fines after being busted with nearly $55,000 worth of illegal cannabis.

“Good riddance to illegal, unlicensed shops like this that have been selling to minors, that are selling untested products, that are not paying taxes,” Erick Bottcher, NYC council member, told Eyewitness News.

And these shops are being investigated, raided and closed in all 5 boroughs.

Mayor Adams said, “they’re just getting started.”

New York’s legalization of marijuana allowed stores to apply for licenses to sell New York grown and regulated cannabis to adults, but many haven’t met the requirements, and the state has only issued a few dozen licenses.

“And that vacuum was filled with all these illegal unlicensed stores exploiting loopholes in the law that made it very difficult to shut them down,” Bottcher said.

Meanwhile, advocates for legal smoke shops said the black market stores are a slap in the face to shop owners who were tied up in the red tape process of a getting license.

“I think it’s unfair to the people who’ve put in the time to go through all the permitting and bureaucracy and waited for this legislation to pass,” Will Council, who is in favor of licensed shops, said.

One concern for many New Yorkers is the easy access children have to cannabis through illegal shops.

“You wouldn’t want kids to buy alcohol underage,” Hilary Maroney, who is also in favor of licensed shops, told Eyewitness News.

But illegal shops that have become magnets for crime with their cash transactions, aren’t just selling to kids, they’re marketing to them.

“We’ve got stores that have cartoon figures in the window, which is expressly illegal under the cannabis law,” Bottcher said.

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