Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco's Sunday routine rarely varies: He begins the day with an early-morning, three-mile jog on Ocean Drive. Yesterday that routine took an unexpected turn.
Although Ocean Drive has been bedeviled by crime this year, Grieco says he rarely sees any trouble along the iconic art deco strip so early in the morning — though he often interrupts his run to pick up litter. This Sunday, though, while he was jogging north near the coral rock wall adjacent to Lummus Park, he spotted a drug deal going down.
The criminal defense attorney and former gang prosecutor, who has been a commissioner since 2013, says shortly before 9 a.m. he saw a heavily bearded man selling drugs behind a public restroom near 14th Street.
Grieco whipped out his cell phone and called Miami Beach Police Officer Traci Sierra, whom he'd seen on patrol moments earlier.
According to a police report, when Sierra arrived, Grieco pointed out 55-year-old Jacobo Chigin.
As Sierra approached Chigin, the suspected drug dealer yelled, "I'm not stopping," before jumping onto a bike, pedaling south along the seawall, and turning west at 13th Street.
That's when the commissioner went into bounty-hunter mode. Fearing the suspect might get rid of any evidence on him before police were able to catch up, Grieco started sprinting after Chigin.
The commissioner kept up with Chigin and a few blocks later watched as he ditched some baggies behind a dumpster in an alley between Collins and Washington Avenues, not far from Club Deuce. An employee from a nearby Collins Avenue hotel also saw the drug drop and began filming the scene on a cell phone:
Cops arrived seconds later and arrested Chigin, who is listed on his arrest form as homeless.
According to the arrest report, Chigin also told officers: "I'm a drug addict, and I got to make a living."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Greico was clearly pumped. "See, I was going to go for a leisurely jog, and I end up chasing a subject," he told officers, slapping hands as they search the alleyway.
According to a police report, cops found "a medium-sized clear bag which contained seven buds of suspect cannabis and a green clear plastic baggie which contained seven small clear blue baggies containing suspect[ed] crack cocaine."
Grieco, who lives south of Fifth Street, isn't the first Miami Beach commissioner to get an up-close-and personal look at police work in South Beach this year.
In August, Commissioner Ricky Arriola was tagging along with cops when they arrested two men suspected of committing a brutal mugging on Ocean Drive.