NYPD cracks down on illegal street vendor hotspot in Jackson Heights

Darla Miles Image
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Police crack down on illegal street vendor hotspot in Queens
Darla Miles has the story from Jackson Heights.

JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (WABC) -- Residents and businesses say it's a mess on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens, prompting a big crackdown on illegal street vendors selling counterfeit goods without a permit.

The weekends are "popping" on 91st Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

Surveillance video outside Mi Farmacia in Jackson Heights shows a bustling sidewalk shopping bazaar.

"The weekend is the busiest day. They'll wrap around the entire neighborhood," said pharmacy manager Milton Reyes.

The normally busy intersection looked a bit empty Monday afternoon.

But why is this particular intersection now a hotspot?

"A lot of it has been -- we clean up Corona Plaza and they went out to the side street. So, they need a place that is also out of the way," said New York City Council member Francisco Moya.

The hotspot got even hotter after nearly three dozen NYPD officers cleared everything out.

"This is the number one complaint in his office, probably 15 to 20 calls a day of basically people come here and set up a flea market. And when you were here a little while ago, you saw how bad it was here before we got here," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry.

But some other business owners told Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles off camera, that they consider the street vendors their neighbors. They sympathize with them for trying to feed their families and earn a living.

"They are hustlers, not aggressive. They are hustlers because they need to feed their family, especially now," said Jackson Heights resident Ana Paulino.

So, is there a middle ground to bridge the gap between people trying to make a living for their family, and the quality-of-life issues that the city is looking to solve?

"That's a very good question," Daughtry said. "We need to be empathetic and sympathetic with some of these vendors. However, what about the about the store owners?"

Store owners in the area are also immigrants.

"Right here on this corner, you see this. It's an Argentinian bakery, who was an immigrant from Argentina," Moya said. "The pharmacist from over there, immigrant from the Dominican Republic. We want to work with people and we understand that people have to make a living, but not at the expense of our local businesses and the quality of the life of the community we live in."


* More Queens news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.