JP CENTER—Pot, pills, guns and cash were allegedly seized in a Jan. 18 raid of Jamaica Cycle & Sports, a fixture of the Centre Street business district that, according to police and prosecutors, doubles as a drug-dealing operation.
Owner/operator Gordon “Chuck” King was “frisked and found to be carrying a loaded 9mm handgun” as the raid of 667 Centre St. began, according to Jake Wark of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Wark added that King has a firearms license and is free to carry a gun on his own property.
“It pulls down the businesses in that area,” E-13 Police Capt. Kelley McCormick said of the alleged drug-dealing. “It draws the whole wrong element in there.”
Sweeping the sidewalk in front of his reopened store on Jan. 23, King told the Gazette that his lawyer said not to comment on the specific charges at this time.
But, he said, “The community shouldn’t believe everything they read. The truth will come out.”
“I’ve been there for the community, and I need them to be there for me,” he said, shaking hands with passing well-wishers.
King, who has operated the store his entire 21 years as a JP resident, has a record of community donations, and even partnerships with local police. In 2005, he provided an award that the Gay Head Street Crime Watch gave to local E-13 Police Community Service Officer Carlos Lara.
King is charged with improper storage of a firearm and possession of Class B, C, D and E drugs with intent to distribute. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the combined charges, according to Wark. King is out on $2,500 bail and returns to court Feb. 16 for a pre-trial hearing.
The raid was based on a search warrant executed by the Boston Police citywide Drug Control Unit. McCormick said he cannot reveal the nature of the investigation, but said, “We had information that [King] was dealing drugs out of there.”
Asked whether King’s 405 S. Huntington Ave. home will also be searched, Wark would only say, “The case does remain under investigation.” King said last week that the police had not been to his house.
The most serious charge is King’s alleged possession of 75 tablets of pharmaceutical morphine. Also allegedly seized in the raid were 124 tablets of the brand-name painkiller Diluadid and 173 tablets of the antidepressant/painkiller nortryptaline.
Wark said that his information about the investigation notes that King has a prior conviction for a Class E drug violation, but that King is not being charged as a two-time offender at this point. But, King told the Gazette, “I’ve never been arrested in my life.”
Police allegedly seized more than 2 pounds of marijuana, according to McCormick.
“There were numerous quantities of marijuana found throughout the store’s back room in bags of various sizes, packaged consistent with individual sale, as well as a quantity of marijuana found in a white plastic pail and a beverage cooler,” Wark said.
The guns allegedly found in the store include a 12-gauge shotgun, a 16-gauge shotgun, a .30-06-caliber rifle and an air gun, along with “hundreds of rounds of ammunition for those weapons,” according to Wark.
“It’s troubling any time you see a large cache of drugs next to a large cache of weapons,” Wark said, but noted that King is properly licensed to own the guns. He is only charged with allegedly not locking them up safely. If he is found guilty on that charge, he may be required to forfeit the guns, Wark said. Otherwise, they will remain his.
Also allegedly found were canisters of black powder that King used to load his own ammo, according to McCormick. The Boston Police bomb squad was called in to dispose of the black powder, he said.
“He was making his own ammunition, which isn’t necessarily illegal, but I have some serious safety concerns with what is happening in the building,” McCormick said. “If something were to happen there, the whole block could go up.”
King has not been charged with any offense related to the black powder or to loading his own ammo, which is a relatively common practice among gun owners. McCormick said city agencies, including the fire department, are continuing to investigate the store’s safety.
The bomb squad was also called in due to “some chemicals in the basement” that were for “possible drug-making, or maybe [King] was just [starting] a junior chemistry set,” McCormick said. It is unclear what the alleged chemicals were. King has not been charged with any offense related to them.
Police also reportedly seized $2,654 in cash.
Besides bicycles and sports gear such as paintball equipment, Jamaica Cycle & Sports offers package shipping, engraved awards and T-shirts. It’s among the oldest continuingly operating businesses in the district.
King has quietly supported various JP organizations, such as Jamaica Plain Community Centers, with donations and services. In 1999, he was praised as one of the rescuers of a Centre Street heart attack victim. He has also been among the public opponents of the Arborway trolley restoration.
In 2004, he joined with the Boston Police in offering bikes for a charity raffle. That same year, he complained to the Gazette about a new city ordinance regulating motor scooters, which he sold at the time.
In 1995, during fears about crime in the business district, King complained to the Gazette about “petty scams” and said, “There never seems to be a police officer around when these things happen. It’s not the police’s fault. It’s more of a City problem.”