Bowden man, six others arrested in smoke shop raid
A Bowden man was arrested with six other people in a police raid at a Central Albertan smoke shop chain late last week.
Wetaskiwin and Leduc RCMP raided the Chad Smoke Shop 420 locations in Wetaskiwin and Leduc on Thursday, seizing large quantities of synthetic marijuana, as well as drug paraphernalia, including pipes, bongs and grinders.
The investigation started more than a year ago, in April 2012, after Wetaskiwin RCMP were notified of a female in hospital after smoking a product being marketed as herbal incense from the Chad Smoke Shop 420 in Wetaskiwin.
During their investigation, police say they determined, with the assistance of the Health Canada Drug Analysis Service, that the products being sold at the store, known as Stinger and ZAP’R, contained a controlled substance similar to cannabis marijuana.
Police in Leduc and Wetaskiwin were granted search and seize warrants and raided the smoke shops in Wetaskiwin and Leduc on Thursday, as well as a residence in Leduc.
Police say the searches resulted in the seizure of numerous herbal incense products, including ZAP’R and Stinger.
The Bowden man, Chad Larry Wentworth, 32, was arrested and has been charged with two counts of possession of synthetic cannabis for the purpose of trafficking and one count each of selling instruments for illicit drug use and possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000, in Wetaskiwin. He was also charged in Leduc with two counts of possession of synthetic cannabis for the purposes of trafficking.
Wentworth was released on $2,500 bail and will make his first court appearance in Leduc on Oct. 3 and in Wetaskiwin on Oct. 17.
Jacinta Ryan Souther, 21, Christine Paquette, 35, and John Dunne, 38, all of Wetaskiwin, were also charged. Souther faces one count of possession of a controlled substance, Paquette faces two counts of trafficking synthetic cannabis and Dunne faces two counts of possession of synthetic cannabis for the purposes of trafficking and one count of possession of a controlled substance.
Keith Malonick, 45, of Calmar faces two counts of possession of synthetic cannabis for the purposes of trafficking and one count of possession of a controlled substance. William East, 37, of Leduc faces two counts of traffic synthetic cannabis and Misty Hill, 31, of Leduc faces two counts of trafficking cannabis and one count of possession of a controlled substance.
Malonick, East and Hill are scheduled to make their first court appearances on Oct. 31 in Leduc.
Health Canada issued a warning in July about the risks of synthetic marijuana products. It identified other synthetic cannabis products including K2, Spice, Stinger and ZAP’R.
K2 and Spice have been linked to the hospitalization of two male St. Albert teenagers on Monday. A 14-year-old is unconscious in the Children’s Stollery Hospital in Edmonton. A 16-year-old is conscious and listed in stable condition, also at the Children’s Stollery Hospital.
A criminal investigation is underway and no charges have been laid for the St. Albert matters.
Health Canada said synthetic cannabis carries serious health risks and should not be purchased or consumed. Included in the health risks are confusion, nausea, seizures, psychotic episodes and, in some cases, death.