Prosecutors Charge West Seattle Store Owner With Soap, Tampon Trafficking

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee November 29, 2011

A West Seattle corner store owner is facing charges for attempted trafficking of stolen property, a felony, after undercover detectives allegedly sold him hundreds of dollars' worth of purportedly pilfered laundry detergent, disposable diapers, baby formula, razors, tampons, and soap.

According to charging documents, Tesfamicael Ghebrehiwot was one of several shop owners caught up in the Seattle Police Department's "Operation Super Boosters," which targeted a number of convenience stores and small shops around Seattle that were allegedly buying stolen goods from shoplifters.

Court documents say undercover detectives first approached Ghebrehiwot at his shop, 16th Ave. Grocery in West Seattle, in May and told him, "I got some shit that I just boosted. I need to get rid of it cheap. Do you want it?"

Police say Ghebrehiwot $50 for $240 worth of soap, detergent, razors, and champagne, and asked about buying a box of tampons from the undercover detective.

Over the next month, undercover detectives sold tampons and maxi pads, batteries, toothpaste, deodorant and Axe body spray—which police claimed were stolen, but were actually donated by Target, Safeway, and QFC and marked with a pen that only shows up under ultraviolet light—to Ghebrehiwot for pennies on the dollar.

In June, police served a warrant on the business and found "hundreds of items for sale" that had secretly been marked by SPD.

Police arrested Ghebrehiwot this morning and briefly booked him into the King County Jail.
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