|Store owner charged in alleged synthetic drug sales|
|Friday, March 9, 2012|
By JENNIFER HORTON
A Lebanon store owner was arrested and charged with selling illegal synthetic drugs on Wednesday, after authorities visited seven locations to conduct controlled buys.
Of the seven locations, only one sold the synthetic drugs, said Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen.
Arrested was Antwan Khalil, 36, of Antioch, owner of Discount Tobacco and Beer, 617 North Cumberland Street, Lebanon. He was charged with Possession and Sale of Illegal Synthetic Drugs, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and cited for violation of the Lebanon City Ordinance for the Sale of Illegal Synthetic Drugs.He is to appear in General Sessions Court on June 12.
Bowen said authorities had received a number of complaints regarding alleged synthetic drug sales at the Discount Tobacco and Beer store on North Cumberland.
Lebanon Police Department’s Narcotics Unit and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joined together to conduct controlled purchases of illegal synthetic drugs from local retailers in the city.
“We did seven and only one sold,” Bowen said, calling it a positive sign that six stores followed the law and city ordinance regarding such sales.
Bowen said authorities executed a search warrant at the store on North Cumberland at about 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, where they seized 86 packets of state banned illegal synthetic drugs and 30 packets of city ordinance banned illegal synthetic drugs along with other drug paraphernalia and cash.
The police chief said Khalil allegedly sold Vitamin Water which is supposedly a masking agent that keeps synthetic drugs from showing up when a drug test is administered. Bowen said the store owner reportedly sold the beverage for $15 a bottle.
“It’s all about making money,” Bowen said.
He added that Khalil reportedly had a copy of the Lebanon Municipal Code containing the ordinance passed by city council making the sale of certain synthetic drugs illegal here.
“He knew what he was doing,” Bowen said, adding the city code was in a drawer under the counter in the store “where we were told.”
Authorities also seized money from the store’s cash register because the owner was reportedly putting the cash from the alleged sale of the illegal synthetic drugs into the same drawer as that from the sale of other items.
Bowen said authorities will also investigate to see whether taxes were properly paid by the store owner. “This investigation is not over.”
Bowen noted the dangers of the use of illegal synthetic drugs and said recently four officers were called to subdue a suspect who was small in stature but was quite agitated as police tried to arrest the individual. They had to use pepper spray on the individual which did not affect him. Officers believe the suspect was on some type of synthetic drug.
A chemical of some kind is added to the drug, a synthetic marijuana, which can cause users to react violently. “This is a whole lot worse, people are just violent,” Bowen said, regarding synthetic marijuana.
In another instance, Bowen said police arrested a suspect believed at first to be on marijuana, but by the time the officer and the suspect arrived at the jail for booking, the suspect had passed out in the backseat of the patrol car and was taken to the emergency room where it was determined the individual reportedly smoked some synthetic marijuana. The suspect was in the intensive care unit for three days.
“We, as police, we see the affects. We are trying as hard as we can to get this off the streets. It’s destroying a lot of people’s lives,” the chief said.
Bowen said he has had discussions with the city attorney regarding other cities’ efforts to attach the sale of synthetic drugs to the issuance of beer licenses, and added that may be an option to consider locally.
“Somebody’s going to die from this stuff right here in this town,” he said, adding if someone “sold my child something that would kill him, I would sue him in a minute.”
The chief said manufacturers of the synthetic drugs are targeting young people, and those who sell it are “preying on kids.”
He added that he hoped by the end of the current session of the state legislature that lawmakers will have added the 30 synthetic drugs made illegal by ordinance in the city to the list of state banned substances.
In the meantime, the visit by authorities to the seven stores, Bowen said, is “just a warning. If you’re a convenience store, we’re going to get around to you.”