Bay Ridge

Hynes: Undercover bought cocaine from ice cream truck

August 6, 2013 Associated Press & Brooklyn DA's Office
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Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes says a man has been arrested on charges he sold drugs out of his ice cream truck.

Minas Gatas, 20, was arrested after a sting operation on Monday evening. He was arraigned Tuesday. Gatas is charged with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree. If convicted, Gatas faces up to 20 years in prison. 

Prosecutors say undercover officers made two drug buys, including an $830 cocaine purchase.

After several text messages between the undercover officer and Gatas, they arranged to meet in the vicinity of the deli. On July 1, Gatas met the officer and entered his vehicle where they discussed the transaction. It is alleged that Gatas talked about the profit that the officer would make by reselling the cocaine that he was about to purchase. They then drove to Gatas’ vehicle, where Gatas allegedly took out a clear plastic bag filled with about 13 grams of cocaine from the trunk of his car.  They allegedly made the exchange for $825.  They discussed diluting the cocaine for resale and also talked about the undercover officer purchasing Oxycodone pills for resale at a later time, it is alleged.   

The investigation reveals that in the days following, the two men exchanged more text messages setting up another meeting for the officer to purchase 15 more grams of cocaine for $825. They arranged to meet at the Owls Head Pier, located at Shore Road and 69th Street where Gatas’ ice cream truck is parked.  The officer met Gatas at a nearby hot dog cart, and then followed him to the ice cream truck a few feet away.  They entered the ice cream truck together. The officer took off his hat containing $830 and asked for a vanilla ice cream cone.  Gatas reached into the hat, took the money, disappeared to the other side of the ice cream truck, and it is alleged, returned a few seconds later with an ice cream cone and a clear plastic bag with the cocaine and Oxycodone pills.  Gatas placed the bag in the officer’s hat before asking him if he wanted sprinkles, and handed the officer the ice cream cone. Then they exited the ice cream truck, walked back to the hot dog cart and continued to talk as Gatas alluded to the high quality of the product he had just sold to the officer.  This second buy was recording on video surveillance. 

Gatas was arrested on the evening of Aug. 5. His ice cream truck and personal vehicle were seized.

Hynes said, “What is so disturbing about Mr. Gatas’ criminal activity is the manner in which he chose to flood our streets with drugs. He is part owner of the ice cream truck and he is also an employee of a deli. Mr. Gatas chose to use these busy, family-oriented public venues to facilitate and negotiate his drug deals, and he brazenly sold large quantities of drugs right from the ice cream truck while children bought their ice cream just a few inches away.”

Gatas was arraigned Tuesday. A message left for his lawyer was not immediately returned.

Prosecutors say during the two-month sting operation, detectives also bought drugs from a deli where Gatas worked.

The ice cream truck was an independent operation, not affiliated with any well-known company.

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