Specialized Investigations Division detectives Wednesday evening shutdown and padlocked two Hermitage convenience markets for peddling a synthetic liquid substance designed to give users of electronic cigarettes a marijuana-type “high.”
First Discount Tobacco & Beer at 3916 Lebanon Pike, and Dolphin Market Discount Tobacco & Beer at 4808 Lebanon Pike, have been declared public nuisances in temporary injunctions and padlocking orders issued by Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier. The owners of the markets (Said Ebrahim Fahim & Maged Youssef Milkhail from First Discount Tobacco & Beer, and Alaa Keliney from Dolphin Market) are being ordered to appear in court on Friday at 10 a.m.
Fahim from First Discount Tobacco and Keliney from Dolphin Market were arrested this evening after they made sales of the liquid substances minutes before officers moved in to close down the stores.
Fahim and Milkhail also face a potential contempt of court violation, as they are already under a permanent injunction issued by Judge Dozier in July 2012 prohibiting them from operating their market as a public nuisance. In that matter, they admitted to selling synthetic marijuana in packets labeled as “7H KUSH” and “PURPLE DIESEL.”
“Synthetic marijuana and similar substances, made and packaged who knows where, pose a significant danger to not only the health of those who use them, but to our community’s overall safety and well-being,” Chief Steve Anderson said. “Markets are on notice that the sale of this stuff will not be tolerated by our police department or the District Attorney’s Office.”
The investigation into the sale of synthetic liquid marijuana began last December after the police department received a complaint from a female customer of Dolphin Market. The citizen reported that the clerk noticed she was wearing an electronic cigarette and offered to sell her a liquid substance that would get her “high.” The price was $40 per bottle. Acting on that information, undercover detectives made buys of bottles labeled as “Relax” and “Maui Maui,” which were kept in a cabinet behind the front counter. The TBI Crime Laboratory found that both tested positive for synthetic marijuana.
During the investigation of Dolphin Market, the police department heard from a parent who reported that her juvenile son and his 18-year-old friend became sick after using “Relax” that the 18-year-old had purchased in the store.
In the case of First Discount Tobacco & Beer, a police operative working with Hermitage Precinct detectives purchased bottles of “Relax” and “Maui Maui” on January 20th and 21st. The liquids field tested positive for synthetic marijuana.