SANTA FE (KRQE) - After a federal drug raid and the arrest of a Santa Fe Plaza business owner, neighboring employees say they hope years of problems will finally be put to rest.
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Thursday arrested Ashraf Nassar, owner of the Heavenly Boutique, charging him with distributing oxycodone and drug trafficking. A criminal complaint filed in federal court alleges Nassar was selling marijuana and oxycodone to people around Santa Fe.
According to the DEA, Nassar has been under investigation since December 2012. Federal agents raid Nassar’s business on Thursday.
“It’s not very common that you see the DEA show up at a store next to yours,” said Grant, an employee at a neighboring business who watched the drug raid unfold. “The investigation team arrived with the dogs and started running them through the store.”
On Friday afternoon the doors of Heavenly Boutique remained closed with a sign reading “closed for inventory, sorry, will re-open tomorrow.”
Employees say the raid was highly visible to many tourists walking the street.
“It was in pretty moderate disarray. There were shoe boxes strewn everywhere,” said Grant.
The DEA believes some of the illegal activity Nassar was arrested for was running through his business.
“We did have evidence to show that there was criminal activity taking place,” said Eduardo Chavez, a DEA group supervisor in Albuquerque.
Agents also raided Nassar's and a neighbor’s home recently. Combined, investigators seized more than 7000 milligrams of oxycodone and 270 marijuana plants.
Chavez said most oxycodone pills typically sell on the street at between 30 and 40 milligrams. He also said a pound of marijuana can garner about $3,500.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators caught on to Nassar's alleged grow by finding poor quality, thrown-out marijuana in the garbage can of his alleged co-conspirators.
The arrest is a turning point in a history of criminal complaints. According Chavez, Nassar has a history of arrests and investigations in Santa Fe.
Nassar has allegedly been involved in a long-standing dispute with his brother-in-law, who owns the Santa Fe West store across from his store in the plaza. Shots were fired near their homes and businesses earlier this year.
Nassar’s brother-in-law's store has dealt with several broken windows for months.
Neighboring businesses say they hope this is finally the last of it.
“I'm just hoping that maybe it’s all over now and that whatever's going on gets taken care of or resolved.,” said Grant.
Six of Nassar’s alleged co-conspirators have also been arrested, but they are still looking for more suspects. While federal investigators say they know where Nassar was growing marijuana, they're still looking for the source of the oxycodone pills.
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