Officers from Kentucky State Police and other agencies raided two small Lexington markets Thursday as part of a cooperative effort to recover stolen Kroger merchandise.
Progress Market at 600 North Limestone was raided Thursday morning, and Eastland Foodmart at 1541 Eastland Parkway was raided a few hours later.
"I moved the curtains back and was like, 'What the heck is going on?'" said Amir Akhlaghi, who lives on the 600 block of Limestone. Akhlaghi said Progress Market was filled with police.
Police charged Ahmed Said Ismail, 30, of Lexington with four counts of engaging in organized crime.
Never miss a local story.
At Eastland Foodmart, Deepamkumas Patel, 41, of Decatur, Ga., and Jagrutibahen D. Patel, 41, of Lexington, were charged with engaging in organized crime.
The recovered goods, most of which were energy drinks, have been identified by Kroger loss prevention officials, Kentucky State Police Sgt. Ben Wolcott said .
"Typically the proprietors of these small establishments are paying pennies on the dollar for stolen merchandise," Wolcott said. "It's quite an organized crime enterprise, actually."
The raids were a part of a series of covert operations that have occurred over the past month and will continue, Wolcott said.
State police will continue investigating these stores and additional charges are expected.
Several agencies are working with state police in these investigations:
■ Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
■ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
■ U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
■ U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"I think this shows that whenever multiple agencies get together and work together, it yields positive results for our community," Wolcott said.
Immigration is involved because of the possibility that some proprietors might be in the country illegally, Wolcott said. "We just wanted to have all hands on deck."
Authorities also made an unrelated narcotics arrest outside Progress Market, but no drugs were found in the store.
Derjuan Watkins, 30, of Louisville, was charged with possession of heroin and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.