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  1. Alfa
    HEMP STORE RAIDED

    Police Seize Narcotics And $240,000 In Cash

    The owner of a downtown hemp shop made his first court appearance
    Friday after police raided his store and found a substantial quantity
    of narcotics and $240,000 in cash -- marking the largest seizure of
    money from a drug bust in Windsor history.

    The search Thursday around 1 p.m. of Harvest Moon also uncovered loose
    marijuana, 85 marijuana plants, and psilocybin -- commonly known as
    magic mushroom -- which police estimate together have a street value
    of $149,000.

    "The drug enforcement officers took a couple of hours to search the
    place," Windsor police spokesman Staff Sgt. Ed McNorton said Friday.

    "It's a relatively small business but they had to look through
    literally everything.

    "They found cash and drugs all over the entire building, on counters,
    under counters, under cash registers, in back rooms, in closets.
    Almost every area in the business had either cash or drugs."

    Now stored in the evidence room of a Windsor police station, the loose
    drugs are stuffed in several large freezer-style plastic bags, as is
    the money -- in every denomination up to $100 bills ($218,000
    Canadian, $22,000 American) -- which would fill a large daypack.

    Officers reportedly spent five hours counting the money, even with the
    help of a money counter, which was seized during a raid of a local
    grow house and recently purchased by Windsor police from the Seized
    Property Management Directorate.

    The confiscated cash and drugs will be kept as evidence until the
    resulting court case ends.

    If there is a conviction, they may be turned over to the federal
    government in accordance with Canada's proceeds of crime law.

    "The total amount of cash is very significant and I think, needless to
    say, they were selling more than knick-knacks in this business,"
    McNorton said.

    During the search, police said many would-be customers approached the
    store but were turned away.

    Police also seized a hatchet and two knives from behind the counter,
    but let the owner's pet pit bull remain behind with food and water,
    and the assistance of the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society.

    OWNER ARRESTED

    Harvest Moon owner Nick Minardi, 41, was arrested without incident
    during the raid and appeared briefly in court Friday facing charges of
    production of a controlled substance, as well as trafficking and
    possession of illegal drugs.

    The Crown alleges Minardi trafficked marijuana June 29, July 5 and
    July 8.

    His next scheduled court appearance is Monday.

    Disappointed shoppers Friday at Harvest Moon, in an older grey-stone
    and red-brick low-rise building at Park and Pelissier streets, were
    greeted with a sign reading "Puff. We're closed."

    Billed in neon as a "Hemp store & more," with a window-sized cannabis
    leaf, the five-year-old shop displays such fare as hemp products,
    pipes, posters and a sign saying "Deadhead parking only."

    A neighbour in the building, who wished not to be named, was shocked
    to learn that the Harvest Moon proprietor allegedly offered narcotics.

    "He was very personable," the neighbour said.

    "And he had a pretty standard clientele. There were all age groups,
    from 18 to 65.

    "And there was a whole cross-section of socio-economic backgrounds.
    Then there were the kids on the weekend."

    The neighbour said Minardi generally stuck to his advertised store
    hours of noon until 5:30 p.m.

    "There was no weird activity at night," the neighbour said. "He closed
    at a normal time. It seemed like a normal business."

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