LACONIA — A police raid conducted Thursday morning at the Mystique Fashion Boutique store on Main Street by agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the Manchester Police was based on a former relationship one of the owners of the shop had with a woman who was recently charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute in Manchester in late June.
A federal warrant issued on July 15 by a U.S. Magistrate to the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Manchester Police Department gave police the right to search 617 Main Street for "fruits of crimes, contraband, and other items illegally possessed in violation federal statutes".
A receipt of items seized left on a counter in the store indicated paperwork from a basement desk, an accordion briefcase with paperwork, a spiral notebook from under the main desk and cash register and a point of sale iPod with the station from the sales counter.
The receipt indicates no drugs or other contraband was found.
In the wake of the raid, co-owner Michael Smith said he and Jeannette Hardy had been business partners in 2012 but that she had never been to the shop in Laconia.
"When I heard on the news what happened to Jeannette I was afraid something like this would happen," he said.
Hardy was shot in her Manchester apartment late last month. When police arrived they allegedly found 2,000 grams of heroin that triggered an investigation in Lawrence, Mass. In the four ensuing days, police recovered $226,000 and 22 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl.
Smith's friend Amanda Whittier is the person who manages the store. On Thursday evening she stood shaking and crying in the middle of the mess left behind by police who conducted the search.
She said she had just purchased the iPod and that it had cost her almost a $1,000. She said she needed it for running credit cards and pointed to where the police used some kind of die grinder or cutting device to remove the computer from its base.
Whittier said she didn't know how she was going to financially recover from the damages done to the store. Her final straw was when she went to use the bathroom and learned the light fixture in ceiling had been cut away.
Both Smith and Whittier wanted to know who disabled the alarm they had installed.
Smith and Whittier were at the store on Thursday night to take out the clothing and jewelry because they were unable to secure the back door and didn't want any of their merchandize stolen.
In the basement, Smith pointed to where the police had ripped shelves off the walls and dumped them and the goods that were on them in the middle of the floor.
Smith said much of the damage was done to the store and building itself. He estimated it to be in the thousands of dollars. He pointed to holes in the walls ceilings and floors, the removal of light fixtures, and the removed and broken ceiling tiles.
"If they had wanted to search the place, they could have just asked," he said. The search warrant specifically said the police didn't have to give a notice to the owners before they exercised the warrant.
Smith said the paperwork in the accordion file was for his taxes.
"Maybe they'll do my taxes for me," he said in a light moment.
As of yesterday, the Colonial Theater building in which the shop in located belongs to a corporation owned by the Belknap Economic Development Corp. that plans on restoring the moribund theater to its former glory.
CAPTION – Shelving and stored merchandize from the basement of 617 Main Street in Laconia in a pile in the middle of the floor after Manchester police executed a warrant-based search on Thursday (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)