Amigos Mini Market in Hialeah advertises that it sells soda, snacks, tobacco, and "much more." Apparently, "much more" included a few baggies of weed inside the cash register, according to Hialeah Police.
Hani Dib, age 64, operated the tiny market, situated in a strip mall off LeJeune Road, for several years. Employees of nearby businesses say Dib was always alone in the store when they would stop by for water, paper towels, and other odds and ends. They had no idea he was allegedly running a side business selling pot out of the store.
"It's amazing that you can work so close to someone and have no idea what was going on," Yusimi Cintra, an employee at a nearby travel agency, told New Times in Spanish.
On May 9, an undercover Hialeah detective entered Amigos and asked Dib if he had any "fire," according to an arrest report. Police say Dib replied he had the "good stuff," took a bag of weed from the register, and sold it to the officer for $25.
Officers made another undercover purchase a week later and again bought $25 worth of material that field-tested positive for marijuana. After acquiring a warrant and searching the store, Hialeah Police arrested Dib May 22. During the search, they reportedly found more weed inside a Folgers coffee can and a whole sandwich bag of the "good stuff" stuffed inside a baby-formula can behind the counter.
While Dib is out on bond, he awaits his June 21 arraignment, where the court will decide whether to press charges. Because his business is within 1,000 feet of Einsteins Learning Center, a daycare, Dib could be charged with two felony counts of selling marijuana near a school. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. (Dib also faces charges of possessing and trafficking controlled substances related to synthetic cannabinoids found in the store.)
Alan Greenstein, an attorney for Dib, tells New Times he doubts the court will give his client the maximum sentence. "We're going to plead not guilty and see what happens," Greenstein says.
Some Hialeah residents think the potential prison time would be a ridiculous punishment.
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"The law exaggerates things out of proportion," says 23-year-old Eric Rodriguez, a neighbor who doesn't personally know Dib. "It's just a plant from the earth, and this guy was probably trying to make extra money to feed himself."
Others, such as 85-year-old Zuila Garcia, believe Dib's arrest was necessary to put a stop to drug use in the community.
"Drugs like marijuana are hurting our youth, and there has to be some punishment to put a stop to them, even if it is severe," says Garcia, another nearby resident.
Although Dib has posted bail and is back at home, Amigos appears to be abandoned. There's no sign on the window, but the door is locked. Neighboring business owners, although tight-lipped about Dib, say the store has been closed since his arrest. On August 13, the Hialeah City Council will vote on whether to revoke Dib's business license.