A local business owner says he is outraged after the Columbus Police Department issued a press release that he views as damaging to his business and his livelihood.
Ali Ahmed, owner of Ali’s Quick Stop, located on the corner of 19th St. and Main St., said he was shocked to learn the CPD issued a press release stating “Ali’s Quick Stop is part of a larger drug distribution network in this area.”
Ahmed claims the release is slanderous and “definitely wrong.”
Ahmed was arrested last Tuesday, March 27, for possession of khat, a foreign-based drug that is comparable to marijuana. Investigators with the CPD were inside Ahmed’s store investigating a shooting when they noticed the leafy drug lying on the counter. Narcotics agents were called to the scene and, once the substance was identified as khat, Ahmed was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. He was not, however, charged with intent to distribute.
Ahmed claimed he was not aware that the substance was illegal. “I didn’t know it was illegal,” he said. “If I knew that then why would I have it just sitting on the counter in plain view with the cops around?”
Ahmed said that he will no longer be using the drug now that he knows it’s illegal but does say that khat does not have the mind-altering effects narcotics officers claim it does. “First off, I chew it, I don’t smoke it,” he said. “I could be chewing it and have a conversation with you and you wouldn’t even know it. It doesn’t affect me like that. But I won’t do it anymore. No way.”
While various businesses have been in that building over the years, including a hair salon, a Greyhound bus station and several different convenience stores, Ahmed has owned and operated Ali’s Quick Stop since May 2009. Law enforcement officials with both the city and county have claimed that no one has been arrested inside of Ali’s Quick Stop for selling drugs since Ahmed opened the store.
In addition to identifying his store as a hot spot for local drug dealers, Ahmed said he is also upset that the CPD linked him to Robertson’s Garage, a local mechanic shop located at 1907 Main Street, less than a block from the his store. The press release referenced a raid conducted by the Metro-Narcotics task force at Robertson’s Garage at 1907 Main Street. On Nov. 8, 2011, agents arrested two men for possession and sale of a controlled substance. Michael Terry Jr., 23, was arrested and charged with two counts of sale of a controlled substance and one count possession of a controlled substance. Michael Haney, 45, was arrested and charged with three counts of sale of a controlled substance. In the release, the CPD claimed drugs are still being sold out of Robertson’s Garage, and stated, “That operation is still ongoing and more arrests will be made.”
Ahmed said, “I don’t know those guys. I don’t go near that place. For them (the CPD) to put me with him? That’s just wrong. It’s just wrong. I don’t do nothing like that.”
When questioned if drugs are being sold out of Ali’s Quick Stop, Chief of Police Selvain McQueen said, “The investigation is ongoing.”
While Ahmed admits that the khat was his, he denied ever selling the drug. “I don’t sell drugs,” he said. “No one sells drugs in my shop. I can’t control what my customers do outside my shop, but don’t talk about them like that. Don’t talk about me, my store like that. It’s not right, it’s just not right.”
Ahmed said he is not yet sure what steps he will take to protect his business and rectify the damage he feels the press release has done. He said he just wants the CPD to “make it right.”