BY VILLAGE SUN STAFF | Police continued to pour on the pot and mushroom arrests in Washington Square Park on Wednesday.
Captain Jason Zeikel, commanding officer of Greenwich Village’s Sixth Precinct, said his officers collared three individuals for drugs in the park. The first arrests came just before 3 p.m., when two people were allegedly caught with psychedelic mushrooms and marijuana with the intent to sell. They were both charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a B felony.
One and a half hours later, precinct officers arrested another person, again, possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
In addition to the druggy fungi, both sets of dealers “also had a lot of marijuana products,” Zeikel noted.
Police confiscated the vendors’ tables, along with anything related to their vending operation, and any cash believed to be from drug sales.
The three arrestees, all males, were ages 30, 32 and 35.
“We’re continuing to focus on the drug dealers in Washington Square Park,” Zeikel stated. “If you’re selling drugs, you’re going to be getting summonsed and arrested. You should not feel comfortable setting up a table and selling in the park.”
Some pot vendors can typically still be seen in a few spots around the edge of the fountain plaza. But they’re keeping a pretty low profile, trying not to call attention to themselves.
“I want them completely out of there,” Zeikel said.
Later in the day, there was another bust in the park for what, at first, might have looked like possibly clothes vending, meaning general vending, which is not allowed in the park without a permit. The arrest was by members of the Police Department’s tan-pants-wearing Critical Response Team — C.R.T. officers.
Captain Zeikel said, although those were not his officers, his understanding was the arrest was for marijuana sales.
While adult-use recreational pot has been legal in New York State for a year and a half, it’s still illegal to sell weed without a license.
In addition, the commander said “Venmo scams,” also known as “basketball scams,” have been making a comeback in the park after vanishing for a month. In the cons, youths approach people in the park — who are usually sitting or lying down — asking for a donation to a school basketball team fundraiser. The youths ask for the person’s phone, allegedly to type in their own cash-app user name — but then enter a much higher than agreed-to dollar amount. They then hand back the mark’s phone with the cash-app deleted, or switch the device onto airplane mode, giving them more time to beat a getaway.
“We had a four-week hiatus [of the scam],” Zeikel noted, “and then we had a few people being ripped off in the park over a few days.”
He said at least one victim was taken for $500.
“We’re going to continue targeting them,” he said of the fake-charity scammers.