Investigation Started with Routine Traffic Stop
A routine motor vehicle stop by officers from the 104th Precinct last year has led to one of the biggest drug busts in Queens history.
Last week, federal drug agents seized 50,000 pounds of marijuana and arrested ten people in connection with a scheme that led from Canada to Queens, according to authorities. Over the past six years, the ring smuggled pot worth millions of dollars from British Columbia to New York, with the drugs entering the country through the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation on the Canada-New York border.
The ring used a house on Penelope Avenue in Middle Village to package and distribute the marijuana. However, authorities caught wind of the operation after officers from the 104th Precinct conducted a routine motor vehicle stop at the intersection of 61st Drive and 84th Street for a minor traffic violation last February.
A computer check revealed that the driver, Mersim Kolenovic, 28, of Forest Hills, was driving with a suspended license. While questioning Kolenovic and the passenger, 28-year-old Slobodan Pavicervic of Middle Village, the officers saw a gravity knife inside the vehicle.
As a result, the two men were taken into custody. The men’s Lexus sedan was taken to the precinct stationhouse, at which point police noticed a strong odor of marijuana. The precinct’s Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit found 18 large bags of pot inside the vehicle’s trunk containing a total of nine pounds of the drug.
According to report, it was that traffic stop that opened the investigation into the cross-border smuggling ring. Canadian nationals Randolf Square, 34, and David Sunday, 37, allegedly masterminded the operation and face 20 years in prison if convicted. They were arraigned last week in Brooklyn Federal Court and ordered held without bail. Eight others, who helped package and distribute the drugs from the Penelope Avenue home, face up to 10 years in prison.
A federal source told the Daily News that it was the men’s sloppiness that led to their downfall. “His sloppiness led to this bust. He was driving with a suspended license while carrying nine pounds of pot,” he said. “This will go down in history as one of the biggest pot busts ever.”
The federal government is now moving to seize assets used in the operation, including $100 million in alleged profits and the titles to several homes, including one on Penelope Avenue in Middle Village. The group is believed to have moved more than one ton of marijuana over the past six years.