MIAMI (CBS4) – A Miami small business owner is taking steps to sue the city of Miami after his cigar store is dragged through the mud in the Chief Miguel Exposito City Commission hearing. Jorge Salazar said prior to the hearing his store was a popular hangout for cops, with 30-40 coming through each day.
Tuesday it was nearly empty.
That is because Cuban Crafters was continually named in the Exposito hearing linked to cocaine trafficking.
“On my cross examination, Officer Roque acknowledged that employees of that establishment had been arrested for trafficking in cocaine,” said Ruben Chavez, an attorney for the Chief at the hearing. “Is this the kind of association that the chief’s brass should have?”
Chavez is referring to Officer Ricardo Roque, who along with Cmdr. Jose Perez, was demoted for visiting Cuban Crafters even after Exposito explicitly told them to refrain from visiting the store. Another unnamed officer was also demoted for the same reason.
In October 2010, maintenance worker Lazaro Torne Ramon Alvarino, an employee of Cuban Crafters, was arrested for cocaine trafficking .
“When I find out the next day I fire him,” said Salazar. “I have 40 employees here. I have no control what they’re doing after they finish work.”
Alvarino was again arrested in December of 2010, though Salazar said he no longer had ties to the cigar store.
When asked if Cuban Crafters was a front for drugs, Salazar said no. He added that he had a zero tolerance policy for illegal activity or drugs.
“To me it’s an offense that he said that we served drugs here,” said Salazar. “That we served kilos of cocaine to a police officer or we buy from a police officer, we never do anything illegal.”
Salazar gave CBS 4’s Tiffani Helberg a tour of his shop along with his attorney Thomas Equels. Equels said he has sent the State Attorney’s office a letter demanding an investigation. He’s also working toward filing a lawsuit against the City of Miami.
“Somebody who’s making these accusations is smoking something but its not cigars,” said Equels. “There is no place that is less likely to be the scene of a cocaine transaction than this place.”
Salazar said he is losing at least a thousand dollars a day in business because the accusations have scared away his police clientele.