For the first time, a Hartford bodega owner is speaking out to Eyewitness News after police arrested him for operating a drug factory and then again, less than two weeks later for running an illegal pawn shop.
"I'm a human being," said bodega owner Henry Depena. "I'm not part of the problem on Park Street."
In total, police said they visited the Los Cubanitos Market, located at 206 Park St., more than 150 times.
"Even before I came here it was a corner with problems," Depena said.
Police raided the Los Cubanitos Market on Aug. 7 and seized a large quantity of illegal prescription drugs, including oxycodone, Suboxone and Viagra.
On that day, Depena, 46, was arrested and charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell and operating a drug factory, amongst other charges. He was back at work later that afternoon.
On Tuesday, following an investigation by the Hartford Police Department Major Crimes Division, Depena was arrested after detectives found overwhelming evidence he was also running an illegal pawn shop.
Depena, who was charged with operating as a second hand dealer without a license, was accused of buying and selling stolen merchandize such as electronics.
"These are not stolen," Depena said. "I got a couple friends I do favors for, but it's not like I'm pawning."
Depena said he's only trying to pay his bills on time.
"I probably make a mistake, not to enrich myself as a small business owner," Depena said. "Everybody struggles financially."
Three people were arrested after police said they raided a market in Hartford on Thursday where they found drugs in an ATM.
Investigators executed a warrant at Willy's Deli on Albany Avenue where they found an ATM loaded with prescription pills, syringes and narcotics.
Police said the store's employees were also illegally selling liquor.
Willy's Deli was shut down immediately and the owners received numerous violations.
A city spokeswoman said the mayor has instructed the Hartford Police Department and licensing and inspections to shut Los Cubanitos down, also pointing out though there's no defined process in the city code to do so.
"It's not bad enough to shut down," Depena said. "I'm just trying to pay taxes on time."
Eyewitness News has been asking for information about what police call "bad bodegas" from city leaders. However, there is not a specific list.
The mayor's spokeswoman said they'll also be examining all applicable state statutes and city ordinances to ensure proper procedures are followed.
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