Mule: Adventures in the Illicit Tobacco Trade
(Village Voice Cover Story)

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Investigative/Enterprise, Longform

As six armed officers pour out of two unmarked Ford Explorers on a Long Island City
street corner, you can see the confusion on the faces of gawkers and passersby. One woman looks up from her phone and does a sitcom-worthy double-take when she notices their windbreakers, embossed with the word “SHERIFF” in big gold letters, front and back.

That might be because few have ever heard of the New York City Sheriff’s Office. But those who have know what happens next. And, not surprisingly, when they burst into a corner store near 40th Avenue and 21st Street, the clerk seems not at all shocked, nor particularly concerned, to see them. This is not his first rodeo, as it were.