Police Raid Twilight Boutique, Charge Owner with Drug Trafficking
Fake pot, hundreds of pipes confiscated from Strongsville head shop
Police from Linndale and Strongsville executed a search warrant at Twilight Boutique on Prospect Road Friday morning, arresting two people and confiscating boxfuls of synthetic marijuana and smoking implements.
Business owner Sherry Lightner and an employee are being charged with felony trafficking in drugs, Linndale Sgt. Tim Franczak said.
Franczak said police found 586 packs of "herbal incense" -- sold under names like K2 and Spice -- that authorities believe contain banned chemicals.
The products are being tested to see if they do, in fact, include any of the five chemicals banned by the DEA last year.
Franczak said an undercover officer purchased a K2 product at Twilight earlier that was found to contain illegal chemicals, which led to Linndale obtaining a search warrant and to Friday's arrests.
Because the undercover officer purchased a pipe with the herbal incense, police also confiscated hundreds of pipes and other smoking devices, some priced at hundreds of dollars, Franczak said.
In all, 2,000 items were taken from the store, which closed temporarily.
"Within a few hours, they were stocking the shelves again," Franczak said.
Todd Pullman, who identified himself as a holding a senior management position in Twilight Corp., said in an email that the charges will not stand up.
"The only comment we will make is that when the analysis comes back as 100 percent legal, we want all of our product returned and we will be asking to be compensated for any and all breakage," Pullman said.
He added, "The real story here is one of a business that pays more than its fair share in tax revenue, employs more than 100 people in Ohio and is being targeted by individuals in law enforcement because of their personal feelings not the law."
It will likely take several weeks for the products to undergo lab testing. If they all contain illegal chemicals, the amount would be so large that Lightner would face a first-degree felony, Franczak said.
"It's the equivalent of getting caught with a couple kilos of heroin," he said. "It's a very large amount of drugs."
Franczak said his department made the arrests because an investigation that started in Linndale led them to Twilight, but said Linndale worked in conjunction with Strongsville on the case.
Kids Getting Sick
Fake pot has been popular throughout the nation in recent years.
The products are marketed as herbal incense, but kids and young adults roll the vegetable matter -- which is treated with chemicals -- into cigarettes and smoke them for what they call "a legal high."
But authorities say the chemicals aren't safe and have led to thousands of emergency room visits.
Last year, the DEA identified the five of the chemicals used to produce the high and made them illegal.
Manufacturers quickly replaced those chemicals with new ones, leading to kids still getting a "legal high" with altered products.
However, some of the products on the market have been found to still contain the banned compounds.
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