Metro police padlocked three beer and tobacco stores in an ongoing campaign to crackdown on the sale of synthetic drugs.
Three people were also arrested and charged in connection with the raids that played out Monday.
“What you will see is the operator of these stores in court convincing a judge that it is in the best interest of the community to reopen,” Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said. “Right now they are not good corporate citizens, they are not abiding by the law and they are endangering the public.”
Over the course of a few weeks, Metro police sent undercover operatives into the stores and clerks sold them synthetic controlled substances.
Metro police padlocked Wings and Gas at 5205 Centennial Boulevard, Lulu's Discount Tobacco at 3717 Clarksville Pike and Lucky Corner at 5304 Charlotte Pike.
According to police, a clerk at Wings and Gas sold a packet of 7H to an undercover operative on September 20.
Also on September 20, a clerk at Lulu's Discount Tobacco is accused of selling a packet of 7H Diablo to an undercover operative. In a separate visit on October 4, a clerk at the store is alleged to have sold a packet of Kush.
On September 16, a clerk at Lucky Corner is accused of selling an operative three packets of Purple Haze kept in the beer cooler. In a separate trip, a clerk led a police operative to a storage room where he is accused of selling three more packets of Purple Haze.
7H, 7H Diablo, Kush and Purple Haze are all forms of synthetic marijuana. In May, the Tennessee General Assembly made selling synthetic drugs a felony. Previously it was a misdemeanor.
Police charged Asharaf Massoud Ibrahim, 49, with possession of a controlled substance for resale. Massoud owns Lulu's Discount Tobacco.
At Wings and Gas, Medhanit Terega, 37, and Adib Akbari, 29, were issued misdemeanor citations for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
No arrests were made at Lucky Corner.
Brooke Wyant was glad to hear about the operation in Nashville. The Murfreesboro mother knows firsthand how an addiction to synthetic drugs can affect a family.
Her son Dylan Evans became addicted to Molly's Plant Food when he was 18 years old and as a result he lost his college scholarships, dropped out of college and had to go to rehab.
Evans, now 20, is back in school and advocates, along with his mother, for tougher regulations on synthetic drugs.
“It was not just him and us as his parents,” Wyant said. “It was his sisters and seeing the emotional toll it took on them.”
Wyant and her son lobbied the Tennessee General Assembly to toughen the penalties for selling synthetic drugs.
“Up until [May] the risk has not outweighed the reward,” she said. “It has been a financial reward for them to continue to sell the drugs.”
Wyant, who also teaches high school, said teenagers do not understand the possible lifetime of problems using synthetic drugs can leave them with.
“Doctors will tell you they still do not know what the effects on kids will be years down the road,” she explained. “The reproductive problems they could face years down the road, for example, we still do not know.”
Wyant said by closing the businesses down all together, police are hitting the business owners hard.
“That is what it's going to take,” she said. “It is going to take them hitting those businesses in the pocketbook.”
All three of the store owners are expected to appear in court on October 22.
Police plan to continue to make undercover buys of illegal synthetic drugs and padlock businesses that violate the law.
- July 10, 2012: 11 Nashville markets padlocked for selling synthetic drugs
- June 12, 2012: Tip alerts police to illegal drug activity at Nashville market
- April 16, 2012: House passes ban on synthetic drugs
- Feb. 12, 2012: Police raid Goodlettsville store for synthetic drugs
- Jan. 20, 2012: Police seize synthetic drugs from Smyrna store
- Nov. 29, 2011: County officials work to create stricter synthetic drug laws
- Nov. 15, 2011: Police: Teens high on synthetic drugs involved in crash
- Sept. 7, 2011: TBI raid targets stores selling synthetic drugs