By Iryna Shkurhan | [email protected]
An illegal smoke shop on Jamaica Ave in Richmond Hill, where an employee was murdered during a daytime robbery in March, was permanently shut down last week.
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. announced that he worked closely with community members and the NYPD to get Plug Smoke Shop, which he referred to as a “blight in the district,” to close shop for good. Addabbo says his office received many complaints about the illegal and unregulated sale of cannabis products at the corner shop. Currently Queens only has one legal cannabis dispensary – Good Grades on Jamaica Ave – and over 200 shops operating illegally in the borough.
“These illegal pot sellers have no business in our community, and it takes a team effort to address this pervasive problem,” said Addabbo in a press release. “The Plug Smoke Shop was not only operating illegally, but a fatal shooting also took place there this year. It needed to go, and now thanks to our diligent efforts, hopefully it’s gone for good. I remain diligent and optimistic that with the credible efforts of the NYPD and community residents, other illegal pot shops can experience the same fate and be closed forever.”
Three men, one armed with a gun, entered the shop around noon on March 18. According to police, two unarmed men loaded up merchandise, and on the way out, the armed perpetrator fired at the store employee. Daryus Clarke, a 20-year-old St. Albans resident was shot in the chest and transported to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Addabbo said that he was under the impression that the business stayed closed following a court order on June 7, 2023. But he was “disturbed” to learn that the shop illegally reopened at the Richmond Hill Block Association meeting on June 28. He continued to work with members of the 102nd precinct to have the owner arrested and ensure the shop would be closed for good.
Senator Addabbo says that he is monitoring the influx of illegal smoke shops in his district and has a team member dedicated to addressing the issue.