North Charleston store owner says federal drug agents seized her merchandise, cash in raid connected to fake marijuana investigation
Federal drug enforcement agents raided a North Charleston store this week in connection with an ongoing investigation into synthetic marijuana sales.
Exchange Factor owner Joan Graf said DEA agents seized merchandise, computer equipment, $6,000 in money orders and “a lot of cash.”
Graf said the agents arrived at the 5128 Rivers Ave. store Tuesday and grilled her employees before carting off her equipment and proceeds.
“I followed them around while they robbed me, basically,” she said. “That’s how it feels anyway.”
She said the items she sells are considered “botanicals” that are meant to be used as incense or potpourri, not smoked. None of the packets contained chemicals that have been outlawed by the federal or state governments, she said.
“Mine is not on the banned list,” she said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Graf’s statements.
On Wednesday, however, U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Bill Nettles confirmed an ongoing investigation aimed at shutting down sales of the potent and potentially dangerous fake pot, also known as K2 and Spice.
Federal and state authorities have moved in recent years to close legal loopholes that allowed sales of the faux pot — herbal mixtures sprayed with a stew of chemicals that mimic marijuana’s main active ingredient, THC — to creep into corner stores and other outlets.
Three Charleston area merchants were indicted on federal drug charges earlier this month as part of a nationwide crackdown on synthetic marijuana.
Federal grand juries in Charleston returned indictments this month against Vedit Patel, owner of the Tobacco Co. in North Charleston, and Khalid Ibrahim and Firas Abuamsheh, owners of Kelly’s Quick Stop in North Charleston and Bacons Bridge Road Quick Stop in Summerville, authorities said.
Read more on this story in Friday’s Post and Courier.