Cops Butt Into Cocaine Queue

Posted: February 06, 1986

Federal, state and local authorities raided a North Philadelphia discount store yesterday afternoon where people were actually standing in line to buy cocaine with either cash or stolen merchandise, police said.

Following that raid, they went to a boarded-up property nearby and confiscated enough allegedly stolen merchandise to almost fill up a medium- sized truck, police said.

James Wolfe, 32, of 30th Street near Huntingdon, was arrested in the Lehigh Discount store at 30th Street and Lehigh Avenue and charged with possession and sale of a controlled substance. Police identified him as an employee of the store. A second man is being sought, police said.

The raid at 4:40 p.m. was carried out by officers of the Philadelphia Police Department's Felony Investigations Unit, Philadelphia district attorney's office, and and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Some 15 agents moved into the store after a plainclothes officer, Stanley Poindexter, purchased four bags of cocaine for $100 in the store.

Poindexter later told other investigators that while he was inside the store, he stood in line behind two other men who purchased cocaine and in front of four others who talked freely about buying the drug. One of the customers made a purchase with food stamps, police said.

Wolfe was standing behind a counter, passing out bags of cocaine through a small window, police said.

Police said when he spotted the officers, he attempted to flee through the basement but was caught.

In the raid, police confiscated a rifle, a handgun, an automatic .25- caliber pistol and 51 $25 packets of cocaine. A trained dog sniffed out spots where cocaine had been stored, police said.

Police said the store had been raided several times since 1981 for trafficking in stolen merchandise.

Around midnight, officers went to a boarded-up three-story rowhouse two doors from the store and recovered merchandise, including videocassette recorders, television sets, typewriters and radios, believed acquired by the store. Much of the goods still had price tags on them with the names of various retail outlets in the area, police said.

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