.

Store Raids Rid Bloomingdale Shelves of K2, Spice, Synthetic Marijuana

Store clerks, managers and owners were targeted in a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office raid, aided by the Florida Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The aim: to rid shelves of synthetic marijuana, also known as “K2” and “Spice.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office showed today, Dec. 7, in no uncertain terms that ridding stores of brightly colored, youth-oriented packages of synthetic marijuana, commonly known as "K2" and "Spice," is of paramount importance to law enforcement officers countywide.

At the sheriff's office on Falkenburg Road, boxes and bags of synthetic marijuana confiscated earlier in the day — from four of the 12 stores targeted for "Operation All Smoked Up" raids — illustrated the severity of the problem.

  • What Does 'K2' and 'Spice' Packaging Look Like?

"They call it a synthetic marijuana," said Major Tom Feeney, with the office's special investigations unit. But "it's no different than cocaine, it's no different than heroin, it no different than PCP," he added. "If you ask me, after 33 years [in the business], with nearly 25 in drug enforcement, it's a designer drug."

  • See charges below, and (update posted Dec. 8)

What makes the sale of "K2" and "Spice" particularly aggregious is that it is marketed toward young people, said Larry McKinnon, a spokesperson with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He pointed out packages in particular that bore the colorful depictions of cartoon characters Scooby-Doo and Bart Simpson.

"They market it to attract kids," McKinnon said. "Typically you'll find the packages near the candy aisles. Some stores now have them back behind the counters, ever since we stepped up law enforcement."

Letters were sent in March, deputies paid visits in April, and still store managers, owners and clerks ignored repeated pleas from the sheriff's office to rid store shelves of synthetic marijuana.

"Despite that, look at this table," Freeman said, pointing to a series of tables piled high with bags and boxes of synthetic marijuana packages, which were openly sold in the stores raided today.

"What is it?" he added. "It's an open-air drug market. It's just that simple."

On view for media representatives were synthetic marijuana packages confiscated from four Hillsborough County stores. Two were in the Greater Brandon area; a third, in Gibsonton; the fourth, in Tampa.

From these four stores alone, McKinnon said at least "several hundred-thousand dollars worth" of synthetic marijuana had been confiscated. From the 12 stores altogether, that number easily could reach, and maybe even top, a half-million dollars, he added.

Eight people reportedly were taken into custody at the four stores, as noted below:

Country Food Mart, 12020 East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Seffner (at the southwest corner of Pine Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.)

  • Heather Hernandez, 22, faces charges of maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.

Bloombox Smoke Shop, 873 West Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon (at the southwest corner of Kings Avenue and Bloomingdale Avenue)

  • Darrian Bilger, 18, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.

Joy Food Mart, 19810 South U.S. Highway 41, Gibsonton (at the southeast corner of Nundy and U.S. Highway 41)

  • Subal Banik, 43, faces charges of maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
  • Abdul Mannan, 57, faces charges of maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
  • Sagar Saha, 43, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.

Radiant Food Store, 13430 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa (at the southwest corner of Fletcher Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard)

  • Claire McCarthy, 35, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
  • Moataz Darwish, 35, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
  • Saleh Elshabrawy, 32, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.

______________

Another two stores were noted in the release handed out at the Dec. 7 press conference, along with another four apprehensions:

Shell Food Mart, 2819 East State Road 60, Valrico (next to Bradford Lodge)

  • Prollard Roy, 30, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
  • Muhammed Matin, 46, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.

Quick Mart, 10051 Sheldon Road, Tampa 

  • Minhaz Lalani, 48, faces charges of controlled substance analog and maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
  • "Sammy" (unknown), faces charges of maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.

______________

For additional charges, see

______________

D'Ann White December 08, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Does anyone else think it's ironic that Hillsborough County is cracking down on synthetic marijuana the same week Washington state legalizes the real stuff?

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »