Evanston store owner arrested in drug, fraud charges

The owner of a grocery store a mile from Northwestern’s campus who had fled the country to evade charges in connection with illegal drug sales and fraudulent practices was arrested in New York last week after attempting to re-enter the U.S.

Isam Abdelquader Alamawi, who owns Ramy’s Foods on 1723 Simpson St., had allegedly been selling crack cocaine from within his store, according to a news release from the Evanston Police Department. In addition, Alamawi had apparently also been conducting fraudulent transactions involving Illinois Link cards, which are issued by the state to those eligible for food stamps and cash assistance.

According to the news release, Alamawi would charge customers more than the actual amount of their purchases, give them illegal cash and keep a cash processing fee for himself. Alamawi was also under investigation on charges of selling cocaine over the counter, as part of operation “Hard Swipe,” a collaboration between EPD, Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Second District Gang Unit, among others, in an effort to crack down on illegal drugs by targeting gang members and open-air drug markets.

When the warrants for Alamawi were issued, EPD found that he had left the U.S. to evade the charges. But police were notified last week that Alamawi had been detained in an airport in New York after attempting to come back into the country.

He was taken into custody in Queens, N.Y. and was taken back to Evanston where he was processed. Alamawi is being charged with four counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and one count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet. of a school. He is also being charged with three counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices ,and two counts of public aid wire fraud for the fraudulent Link card charges.

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