We’ve all noticed storefronts that would seem incapable of staying open due to a lack of any desirable stock, but that manage, mysteriously, to stay open anyway. “That’s fishy,” you might say. But it does stay open, DEA agents do not raid it, and you tacitly accept that it is weird and then stop thinking about it.
Other times, a business might appear to be perfectly legit, even charming, and not make you suspect that maybe, just possibly, it is a front for one of the largest illegal prescription pill rings in the history of New York State. And if that is something that did not occur to you when you passed Chopin Chemists on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, then—similar to DEA agents (until recently)—Chopin Chemists fooled you, too.
In September and earlier this month, a DEA agent pretending to be a customer bought 700 pills from store owners, husband and wife Marcin and Lilian Jakacki, according to the New York Daily News—highly unlucky because Marcin did apparently do his due diligence and ask the undercover agent to verify that he was not, in fact, an undercover agent who wanted to purchase his “candies” (AKA oxycontin).
According to Manhattan US Attorney, the Jakackis sold pills from both real and non-real prescription pads (the latter using believable human names like “Coach” and “Chanel”), reaped $15 million in illegal profits, purchased a $3 million Connecticut home, and leased a Land Rover and a Porsche for $100 thousand and $45 thousand respectively.
Agents were tipped off to the scheme when an audit of the store in 2013 revealed that it sold 430,000 pills—far more than nearby Rite Aids and CVSs—which, say what you will about how unpleasant it is to shop at a chain pharmacy, Chopin Chemists’ charm alone could not possibly steal quite so many customers, they realized.
Unbeknownst to the UPS delivery man for Chopin Chemists, he was an essential link in “one of the largest opioid painkiller diversion schemes ever uncovered in New York,” which could result in 85 and 60 year sentences for the husband and wife.
“That’s crazy — millions of dollars,” the UPS man said, purportedly. “What am I going to think? I get paid to deliver stuff.”
Yes, what were you to think, UPS man. Certainly not that you were helping your neighbors Coach and Chanel get illegally high. Sometimes a fast one will be pulled right by you in the course of doing very above-the-board work. That’s life. The real lesson seems to be: if your business is not above the board, and your work happens to be selling illegal drugs, just avoid asking your clients if they work for the DEA. You might still be caught, but your intellectual integrity will remain in tact.