Eleven Markets Padlocked for Allegedly Dealing in Synthetic Drugs
Metro police officers, joined by TBI and DEA agents, on July 10 took the unprecedented action of shutting down and padlocking eleven Nashville convenience markets for their alleged sale of synthetic marijuana or similar substances. The simultaneous raids were a part of Operation Clean Sweep, the first time law enforcement in Tennessee has used a newly enacted statute to send a clear message that the overt or clandestine distribution of synthetic controlled substances will not be tolerated.
The eleven markets were declared public nuisances in temporary injunctions and padlocking orders issued by Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier. Judge Dozier’s orders provided that the markets be searched, any contraband and monies relating to illegal activity seized, and that the stores be padlocked pending a court appearance by their owners.
The markets are:
- First Discount Tobacco, 3916 Lebanon Pike
- Jones Market, 1519 Jones Avenue
- Main Street Market, 946 Main Street
- Mora Discount Tobacco, 5532 Clarksville Pike
- Nashville Smoke Shop, 3320 Nolensville Pike
- NSP Discount Beer-Tobacco, 3002 Clarksville Pike
- R & H Discount Tobacco, 450A-1 Donelson Pike
- Re-Re Discount Tobacco, 2618 Lebanon Pike
- Toke-N-Roll, 5122-B Nolensville Pike
- Toke-N-Roll, 4824 Old Hickory Boulevard
- Yes We Can, 2828 Gallatin Pike
“Synthetic marijuana and similar products are inherently dangerous and are seemingly packaged to appeal to teenagers and young adults,” Chief Steve Anderson said. “The truth is, the colorful packets obtained from convenience markets and other venues contain chemicals that can cause very serious side effects on the human body, including loss of control, vomiting, profuse sweating, elevated blood pressure, severe paranoia, hallucinations and even death. These products have no place whatsoever in Nashville or Tennessee.”
At the urging of police and prosecutors, Tennessee’s legislature this year unanimously passed a law that took effect May 15th making the sale of synthetic marijuana a felony. The law also provides that businesses engaged in distribution can be padlocked as public nuisances.
Since mid-May, investigations by precinct-based Crime Suppression Units, Specialized Investigations Division narcotics detectives and TBI agents led to the undercover purchase of synthetic controlled substances with brand names such as Nightmare Herbal Incense, Purple Diesel, Bang Bang, Cloud 9 Mad Hatter, Skywalker Herbal Potpourri XXXX-tra Intense Blend, Charlie Edition, Diablo, 7H Kush, 7H Hydro and K4 Loud from the eleven markets. Criminal charges against the employees who sold the products are forthcoming.
“Our purpose is to not just go after the clerks who sell synthetic drugs, but the market owners who we allege show a reckless disregard and deliberate indifference to the health and welfare of Nashville’s citizens by allowing this stuff in their businesses in the first place,” said District Attorney General Torry Johnson, who requested the padlocking orders from Judge Dozier.
“Today’s action should send the clear message that law enforcement in Nashville has zero tolerance for the distribution of synthetic drugs and will take strong action, even including padlocking orders when necessary, to prevent their distribution in our neighborhoods,” Johnson said.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn said while Nashville was the first to use the full force of new state laws dealing with synthetic drugs, the problem extends well beyond the boundaries of Davidson County.
“This operation should be an example to other markets across the state, from Memphis to Kingsport,” Gwyn said. “Clerks and store owners who continue to disregard the laws surrounding these dangerous drugs will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The synthetic drug trade is also on the radar of federal law enforcement and prosecutors.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office stands ready to assist our law enforcement partners in their efforts to protect our community and our citizens from the devastating effects of such harmful substances,” said Jerry E. Martin, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. “We will hold accountable those who distribute synthetic substances in violation of federal law.