Officers Rene Alicea and Christopher Polonkay were on patrol late Friday when in an area known for violent crime, open-air drug sales and gangs,when they saw a man approach a silver Honda Accord driven by Jose R. Espinal-Henriquez, 23, of Paterson, in front of a Market Street liquor store, Police Director Jerry Speziale said.
The man, identified as Pedro Cruz, paid for a bag of pot, then walked away, he said.
Espinal-Henriquez was startled and shoved the gun in his waistband as the officers approached and shined a flashlight inside his car, Speziale said.
They immediately opened the door and got him out, the director said.
The silver-colored Smith & Wesson .40-cal. handgun fell down his pants as they handcuffed Espinal-Hernandez, so they patted him down, then cut his pants open at the ankle to retieve the weapon, Speziale said.
Espinal-Henriquez was also carrying more than 20 bags of cocaine of varying sizes, he said.
Having secured him, officers turned their attention to Cruz, who ducked into the liquor store, the director said. They took him into custody and found him carrying the bag of pot, he said.
A check of the gun -- which had a magazine with 12 founds -- found it had been reported stolen out of Columbia, SC, Speziale said.
Espinal-Henriquez was sent to the Passaic County Jail, pending court action, on various drug and weapons charges.
Cruz was released on a pot-possession ticket.
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