Smoke shop owner arrested for synthetic drug sales
The owner of an Indianapolis smoke shop has been arrested for allegedly selling synthetic drugs.
The Attorney General's office, along with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office sent out a warning last month to store owners who sell Spice and other synthetic drugs.
"If you don't take them off the shelf, we're going to pursue you," said Prosecutor Terry Curry.
It's a warning they followed through with.
"We put retailers on notice that we would prosecute if they sold any synthetic drug such as spice or bath salts," said Prosecutor Terry Curry. "Thanks to outstanding investigative work of IMPD, we have filed charges in this matter. We are on the offensive against a rising tide of synthetic drugs in our community, and we are determined to put an end to their distribution."
Curry's office announced 18 felony charges against Christopher Tiplick, the owner of the Smoke Shop locations, under the "look-alike" and synthetic drug statutes.
Police working undercover made six separate purchase of synthetic drugs, under the name "Primo," from three separate Smoke Shop locations. Investigators seized more than 1,000 individual packages of alleged synthetic drugs in the operation.
Tiplick, is charged with six counts of Conspiracy to Commit Dealing in a Look-Alike Substance, four counts of Dealing in a Look-Alike Substance, four counts of Dealing in Synthetic Drug, and four counts of Possession of Synthetic Drug.
Curry say Tiplick's arrest is just the beginning.
"We're going to try and remove them from every shelf in Marion County," Curry said.
But a former user tells Eyewitness News synthetic drugs are still out there. In fact, he says a friend just bought it at a gas station, less than a week ago.
"Smoke shops, gas stations, pretty much anywhere," said Gustavo Navarro, when asked where the drugs could be purchased.
Navarro says the drugs are so popular because marijuana is illegal.
"The appeal is to get high without being able to trace it," he said.
While the crackdown has made synthetics more difficult to find, Navarro says it's far from impossible to get ahold of. The biggest consumers, he says, are children.
"I know 15-, 14-year olds who can get this like none other. I mean everybody can get it it's not hard to do" said Navarro.
"Clearly, there has been a demand. In these three locations alone, we seized approximately 1,800 packets of what we allege are synthetic drugs," said Curry.
While the demand is high, so are the dangers. That's something both men can agree on.
"Individuals who are purchasing these items and taking them have no idea what they are putting into their bodies," said Curry.
"Do you think it's dangerous? Synthetics?" Eyewitness News asked Navarro.
"Yes, because people build up a tolerance to it and smoke more, 'I need to do more' and they go a little overboard and that's how people end up dead," Navarro said.