Raid targets synthetic drugs

State and local officials raided a Clark County convenience store and a Dayton home Friday morning as part of a series of investigations across three-counties that targeted outlawed synthetic drugs.
A search warrant was served at Quality Food Mart, 127 Weinland Drive in Bethel Twp., where officials took owner Munir F. Al Hmidat, 50, of Dayton, and clerk Fadi K. Shoukri, 27, of Dayton, into custody on three counts of trafficking in a controlled substance.
The warrants were among five served in three counties that allegedly uncovered synthetic marijuana or herbal incense being sold in three Ohio stores, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“Some of the drugs found in these investigations came in packaging designed with superhero images, which demonstrates that these drugs are being marketed toward our children,” DeWine said.
The raids and investigations were conducted jointly by the Clark County Sheriff’s office, the attorney general’s office Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Consumer Protection Section, the R.A.N.G.E. Task Force and other local agencies.
The investigation began more than four months ago, Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said, when a mother emailed him and said she suspected her son had purchased what she believed were bath salts.
The juvenile had gone “crazy,” Kelly said quoting the mother, and was in the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center at the time.
“Because it was a juvenile, it prompted us to more vigorously investigate,” Kelly said.
Evidence investigators said they collected during the raid of the Bethel Twp. business included about $30,000 in cash, at least $1,300 of suspected synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs, drug paraphernalia, computer equipment, a handgun and more.
While the Bethel Twp. raid was ongoing, a search warrant for Al Hmidat’s Montgomery County home was served by state investigators and members of the Regional Agencies Narcotics & Gun Enforcement Task Force.
DeWine has made eliminating synthetic drugs a priority, his office said, and sent a warning letter to retailers in November advising them of the risks of continuing to sell synthetic drugs. A state law that went into effect in December strengthened the ban on synthetic drugs.
“We gave business owners fair warning that if we found synthetic drugs in their stores that there would be consequences, and now we are following through with that promise,” DeWine said outside the Quality Food Market.
Three warrants in two similar, but unconnected, cases also were served Friday on two stores in Guernsey County.
The state also filed civil lawsuits against the three businesses, alleging they “engaged in unfair, deceptive and unconscionable acts by selling illegal drugs as legal products,” the office said in a news release.
Attorneys also filed nuisance abatements against the businesses, requesting that the stores be closed for one year.
“We need to do everything we can to protect our families, and that is why we decided to take this action one step further and file civil lawsuits against those involved,” DeWine said.

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