Operation Snow Cone freezes out alleged ice cream truck drug peddler

August 6, 2013 Denise Romano
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Talk about bad humor.

A 20-year-old man was arrested on the evening of Monday, August 5 for allegedly selling drugs out of his Good Humor ice cream truck to an undercover officer while it was parked at the 69th Street Pier.

Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes, State Senator Marty Golden, Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann announced the arrest at a press conference the following afternoon.

The suspect, Mina 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.

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During a two-month investigation beginning in this June, named “Operation Snow Cone,” according to Hynes, an undercover officer from the DA’s office entered the In and Out Halal Deli, located at 7223 Fifth Avenue, and struck up a conversation with Gatas who was working behind the counter.

Gatas reportedly told the officer that he could get him some narcotics. According to the DA’s office, the two exchanged phone numbers and over the next few days, they reportedly had several conversations about setting up drug transactions.

After exchanging text messages, the undercover officer and Gatas arranged to meet in the vicinity of the deli, the DA’s office said. On July 1, the two met and went into the officer’s car where details of the transaction were discussed, they added.

Gatas allegedly talked about the profit that the officer would make by reselling the cocaine he was about to purchase. According to the DA, they drove to Gatas’ car, where he reportedly took out a clear plastic bag filled with about 13 grams of cocaine from the trunk. They allegedly made the exchange for $825 and discussed diluting the drugs for resale. The two also allegedly spoke about the officer buying Oxycodone pills for resale at a later date.

According to those in charge of the investigation, the pair exchanged more texts and arranged for the officer to meet Gatas at the 69th Street Pier – where his ice cream truck is parked – for the officer to purchase 15 more grams of cocaine for $825. The DA’s office said that the undercover officer subsequently met Gatas at a nearby hot dog cart and then followed him to the ice cream truck a few feet away.

They entered the truck together, where the officer took off his hat, containing $830, and asked for a vanilla ice cream cone, according to the DA. Gatas allegedly reached into the hat, took the money, disappeared to the other side of the truck and returned a few seconds later with an ice cream cone and a clear plastic bag with the cocaine and Oxycodone pills. Gatas reportedly placed the bag in the officer’s hat, asking if he wanted sprinkles, and then handed him the ice cream cone.

The pair then reportedly exited the truck, walked back to the hot dog cart and continued to talk as Gatas allegedly alluded to the high quality of the product he just sold the officer. This second buy was recorded by video surveillance.

During his arrest, Gatas’ ice cream truck and personal vehicle were also seized.

“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,” Hynes said. “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.”

Elected officials praised the news.

“We had received numerous reports of a man selling more than just ice cream bars from his Good Humor truck on the 69th Street Pier,” Gentile said. “Today we are sending a very clear message that in our neighborhoods we will not tolerate drugs or drug dealing of any kind – especially when it is disguised as something safe and fun for our children.”

“Taking the ice cream truck drug dealer off the streets will protect Brooklyn’s children from an absolutely despicable and dangerous threat, and I thank District Attorney Charles Hynes for his diligence in this matter,” added Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis.

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