OC Store Owner, Employee Charged In Boardwalk Raid

OCEAN CITY — A Boardwalk business owner and his employee were charged last week with possession and distribution of synthetic drugs banned by the town of Ocean City after a raid on the establishment earlier this month.

Ocean City police last Friday charged Fransisco Rico Hernandez, 48, of West Ocean City, and Blen Giday Berhani, 24, also of West Ocean City, with the possession and distribution of substances banned by the town of Ocean City. Fransisco owns the Maytalk store raided by masked undercover Ocean City narcotics officers and uniformed officers on Sept. 15, and Berhani is an employee of the raided store near 2nd Street.

Hernandez has been charged with possession of Salvia, a hallucinogenic substance banned by the Ocean City Mayor and Council during the summer of 2010, and the possession and distribution of a cannabimimetic agent, K-2, a synthetic form of marijuana which gained popularity this summer before being banned by the Mayor and Council. Berhani faces the same charges, minus the possession of salvia count. Both Hernandez and Berhani have also been charged with possessing and selling synthetic paraphernalia.

The investigation began when OCPD Mounted Patrol officers received a tip from a citizen about the sale of K-2 at Maytalk in mid-September. On Sept. 13, undercover OCPD narcotics detectives conducted a compliance check on Maytalk and were able to purchase K-2 from a store employee, presumably Berhani, who allegedly told the undercover officers K-2 was illegal but agreed to sell it to them anyway. According to police reports, the employee also sold the detectives a pipe and explained to them how to use K-2 to get high. Also according to police reports, Hernandez was present during the transaction and the drug use seminar.

Two days later, around 1 p.m., undercover OCPD detectives wearing black hoods and masks over their faces, along with regular OCPD bicycle patrol officers, served a search and seizure warrant on the Maytalk store and recovered K-2, bath salts, paraphernalia, several fixed-blade fighting knives and Salvia.

The owner admitted the store had been selling Salvia despite the ordinance banning the substance last year. Some contraband was found hidden in a compartment in a display case next to the cash register, which was likely the mysterious white box undercover detectives removed from the store and hustled into a nearby vehicle. Hernandez and Berhani are scheduled to appear in District Court in Ocean City on Oct. 14 for a preliminary inquiry.