Four people were nabbed this week for selling magic mushrooms and other psychedelic candies from Manhattan shops, prosecutors said Thursday.
Community complaints about the East Village sellers sparked an investigation that began early last month and involved undercover officers buying the illegal drugs from two stores, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office said.
Investigators found that psilocybin mushroom products were being stored and sold in a secret back area of the Come Back Daily CBD store on East 11th Street near Avenue A, prosecutors said.
Customers would pass through a public section of the store and say a code phrase to a receptionist, before being directed to a hidden door. That door led to a back room with a counter, an office and storage area and a lounge, according to prosecutors.
A Tuesday search of the shop revealed that items stored there – and available for purchase – allegedly included a large quantity of the psychedelic products in various forms, including pills, mushrooms, chocolate bars and gummies.
Officers seized nearly 1,500 psilocybin mushroom pills packaged inside sealed containers, as well as 59 medium Ziplock bags of “Mushie” brand mushrooms and 24 medium Ziplock bags of “Mushie” gummies.
Investigators also allegedly found two boxes filled with chocolate “Polka-Dot” psilocybin mushroom bars. Three yellow wrapper mushroom chocolate bars and four plastic bags containing psilocybin mushrooms were allegedly discovered among the stash. Officers also recovered about $1,884 in cash, prosecutors said.
Owner Steven Phan, 33, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, prosecutors said.
Employees William Brako, 24, and Nina Fink, 22 – who allegedly sold the illicit drugs to undercover officers on Nov. 1 and earlier on Tuesday – face the same charge, in addition to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, officials said.
Also on Tuesday, an employee of the City Clouds smoke shop on East 7th Street near Avenue A was busted for selling a “One Up” mushroom chocolate bar containing psilocybin to an undercover officer, officials said.
A second “One Up” bar was allegedly recovered during a search of the store.
Owner Mohamed Ahir, 44, who sold the bar for $50, was charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, prosecutors said.
All four arrested workers were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the case – by the NYPD’s Narcotics Borough Manhattan South – an “intelligence-driven investigation, stemming from community complaints.”
The investigation “has put a stop to this criminal activity and demonstrates, once again, that the NYPD and our law enforcement partners will never waver in our fight against the harm caused by illegal drugs,” she said.
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan commended the local tipsters who reported the illegal sales.
“I thank those who care enough about their neighborhoods and protecting public safety to alert us to the ongoing problem of distribution of illegal substances by purportedly legitimate businesses,” Brennan said.