WORCESTER – Police are investigating a shop owner for allegedly using his stores in the Midtown Mall as a front for heroin dealing.
The arrest this month marks the second time in three years Miguel A. Calderon-Baez, 30, has come under suspicion of using shops he owns in the downtown mini-mall to help conceal alleged illegal drug sales, according to police.
Court records show on May 12, police officers with a warrant searched The Fashion Clothing and The Music Fashion stores, as well as a shop formerly known as The Eves, run by Mr. Calderon-Baez, known to live in both Oxford and Worcester.
Mr. Calderon-Baez owns the two shops in the small indoor shopping mall across the street from the Common behind City Hall, records show. He told police he was only operating the former Eves shop at 22 Front St. and was planning to buy it until this month’s raid likely “screwed that up,” police said.
Mr. Calderon-Baez was arrested by Worcester police in Oxford on May 12, after a search of 82 Orchard Hill Drive in that town produced four firearms, ammunition, 55 grams of crack cocaine, Percocet pills and $14,404 in cash hidden in a couch, according to police. Mr. Calderon-Baez, with an address also of 5 Jefferson St., Apt. 1, in Worcester, was charged with four counts of possessing a firearm in a felony, eight counts of possessing a firearm without a firearm identification card, a subsequent offense of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, trafficking in cocaine and possession of cocaine.
An affidavit filed in Central District Court showed Worcester police went with a search warrant to Mr. Calderon-Baez’s shops later that day. In their request for a warrant, police said Mr. Calderon-Baez said the money from the couch in Oxford was “profit” from his stores. At the Midtown Mall, officers seized a black folder containing bank records and paperwork, as well as financial documents belong to the suspect. Police reported also finding in Ms. Muniz’ car three cell phones and “crib notes” – numerical notations most often associated with drug transactions, officials said.
Vice Squad Officer Allan Burnes wrote in an affidavit that he believed Mr. Calderon-Baez uses the shops to launder cash from suspected heroin dealings.
“I know through my experience that drug traffickers will utilize … what may appear to be legitimate businesses as a front to launder proceeds,” the officer wrote. “… I believe that Calderon’s statement regarding the ($14,404) cash demonstrates that he is attempting to legitimize (it).”
Police noted in their affidavit that a reliable informant said he bought heroin from Mr. Calderon-Baez inside the mall. That informant worked with police in the last several months and allegedly bought more drugs in controlled purchases.
This is not the first time Mr. Calderon-Baez has been accused of using the stores – which offer CDs and DVDs, trinkets and sneakers and clothing – for illegal transactions.
In 2012, Worcester police obtained a search warrant for the businesses and reportedly found dozens of bags of heroin and thousands in cash. He was arrested and charged with heroin trafficking at that time, a charge still playing out in Worcester Superior Court with a hearing scheduled next month.
Midtown Mall owner Dean Marcus declined to get into specifics of the current case when contacted Wednesday. He said Mr. Calderon-Baez hadn’t been “around for months” to run his businesses but confirmed the stores are still in operation.
I think we can all agree that this is the least surprising story of all time. If I was ever in the market for some heroin, the first place I’d look is the Mid-Town Mall. That’s just good ol’ fashioned common sense.
This guy might’ve gotten away with it too, had it not been for this:
“In their request for a warrant, police said Mr. Calderon-Baez said the money ($14,404) from the couch in Oxford was “profit” from his stores.”
Come on bros. I’m not buying that and you shouldn’t be selling it. As a matter of fact there hasn’t been any buying and selling at the Mid Town Mall in years. No one in their right mind believes it’s possible to make a profit at a store you own in that beatiful establishment. We did a profile on this state-of-the-art shopping experience a couple months ago. We even had one of our Turtleboy bloggers do a video tour of the palace:
As you will see, there’s no way $14,404 worth of goods have been sold in all of those stores combined since the “mall” opened it’s doors to the public.
When we wrote this blog the hippies were lining up to whine and complain about how we were being racist to small, minority-owned businesses. But it turns out we were right. It was just a front for heroin distribution the whole time. Reason #4,982 that Turtleboy is right and the hippies are wrong.
Now I’m not saying that every store in that place is a front for heroin dealers. I’m just saying that if I were to go into the heroin biz, the first thing I would do is rent a storefront at the Mid Town Mall. I mean come on now, this genius named his stores The Fashion Clothing and The Music Fashion. It’s like he wasn’t even trying to mask the fact that his sole intention of owning those stores was to have prime real access to Worcester’s finest addicts.
I mean, “The Fashion Clothing?” That’s the best you could come up with? He sure put a lot of thought into that one. Do you or anyone you know own a piece of clothing that was purchased at “The Fashion Clothing?” As soon as he said there was over $14K in sales from a store no one has ever been to before, the jig was up.
The bottom line is the Mid Town mall has got to go. For years Worcester bigwigs have been talking about cleaning up that area. Getting rid of the bus stop in front of City Hall was a good first step, but here’s what they can do to make this place less of an eyesore.
- Bulldoze an alley right through the Mid-Town mall and turn it into an open-air Quincy Market situation.
- You’re not allowed to open up a store there if it’s hood-rat bait. No stores with the words “bling-bling” or “cash for gold” are allowed.
- Toss up a Panera Bread, a Whole Foods Market, a hippie-owned bookstore, a Starbucks, and some place that sells organic soy.
Those types of stores are like citronella lamps for dooshnozzles. Next thing you know the heroin trade will be going on inside the Ernest A. Johnson Tunnel where it belongs.
Boom. Problem solved.