DUNDEE – Taking further aim at the sale of a product called K2, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested four men at two convenience store for selling what is considered a synthetic form of marijuana.
“We’ve given numerous warnings to businesses in Polk County not to sell these dangerous and illegal substances,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “Over the last several weeks, in the aftermath of the young man who drowned after smoking K-2, we’ve again checked virtually all convenience stores in Polk County.”
Often sold in convenience stores and head shops under brand names like K2 and Spice, Judd has long claimed that’s a cover for what is essentially a “fake pot” or imitation marijuana. Buyers use it to get high, Judd warned, even though synthetic pot has been known to cause a variety of illnesses, including severe nausea, headaches and vomiting.
In October 2010, Judd held a press conference to announce he was cracking down on convenience stores throughout Polk County that market the product. The Polk County State Attorney’s office had agreed to press charges under a Florida statute prohibiting “imitation controlled substances.” It targets the sellers, distributors and manufacturers of products that “by express or implied representations, purport to act like” an illegal substance. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, although the law doesn’t ban mere possession.
Since then, Judd said, “Nearly 100 percent of these businesses recognize that K-2 is illegal and they don’t sell it,” he said. “For those who do sell it, we will charge them appropriately.”
That’s why he sent undercover detectives into the two convenience stores where the arrests were made, Judd said.
The stores targeted were the Beverage Castle at 525 S. Lake Shore Way in Lake Alfred and the Sunoco Superway #6 Store at 201 Dundee Road, Dundee.
“Detectives responded to the stores based on information provided by citizens and by the Lake Alfred Police Department,” noted Scott H. Wilder, director of communications for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Four men were arrested on Thursday, Jan. 26, including Kinjal M. Patel, 32, of 1128 Brenton Manor Drive in Winter Haven, who was arrested at the Sunoco in Dundee and charged with four counts of possession of an imitation controlled substance, four counts of possession with the intent to sell, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and two counts of solicitation of a lewd act.
Viral M. Patel, 34, of 5073 Brenton Manor Ave. in Winter Haven was also arrested in Dundee and charged with two two counts each of possession of an imitation controlled substance, and possession with intent to sell.
Kelvin Patel, 25, of 3643 Queens Cove Blvd., Winter Haven, was arrested at the Beverage Castle in Lake Alfred and charged with two counts each of possession of an imitation controlled substance and possession with intent to sell.
Vishnubhai Patel, 51, of 3643 Queens Cove Blvd., Winter Haven, also got arrested in Lake Alfred and faces one count each of possession of an imitation controlled substance and possession with intent to sell.
Wilder noted that undercover detectives “purchased various synthetic cannabinoid products from both stores on a number of separate occasions. The products are sold in small bags or small jars and appear as a green leafy substance similar to marijuana prepared for smoking. The green leafy substance is sprayed by the manufacturers with synthetic cannabinoid substances — chemically similar to the chemical compounds in marijuana — that produce a ‘high’ when smoked.”
Among the products sold and purchased by undercover detectives in the Dundee store were D-ZL Green Apple High Quality Damiana, D-ZL High Quality Damiana, Mr. Happy, G-13, and K-ZL High Quality Damiana.
Wilder noted that several samples of the products were taken to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab to be tested.
“They were identified as containing the controlled substance analog substance known as AM-2201,” Wilder noted. The FDLE lab report indicated that “AM-2201 is substantially similar to JWH-018, a controlled substance listed in Schedule I of section 893.03, Florida Statutes. AM-2201 has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system substantially similar to or greater than JWH-018. AM-2201 has a high potential for abuse, and constitutes a risk to the public health. Tolerance builds up quickly to its effects, and convulsions have been reported at doses exceeding 10 milligrams. There also have been anecdotal reports of individuals experiencing panic attacks and vomiting at doses as small as 2 milligrams.”
Wilder noted that Kinjal M. Patel was arrested in part because he “twice offered a female undercover detective, via text messaging, that he would provide her free K-2 in exchange for sex acts. After Kinjal M. Patel was arrested, he told detectives that he knew it was illegal to sell K-2.”
Viral Patel told detectives “that ‘weed’ (marijuana) was better than K-2, and when asked why he sold K-2, he stated ‘I’d put s–t in a bag if it made me money,’ ” Wilder noted in his report. “Prior to his arrest, Viral Patel stated that he ‘was just trying to make some money to pay the debt we owed,’ and that they had been ‘selling K-2 for the past few months.’ “
Kelvin Patel, Wilder noted, “admitted to undercover detectives that he was selling K-2 inside the store. However, he stopped two or three months prior because he heard that K-2 was ‘bad stuff’ and did not want to sell it anymore.”
Detectives on Thursday, January 26, 2012 located and seized a case of K-2 synthetic cannabinoids at the Sunoco Superway in Dundee, although the detectives didn’t find any K-2 at the Lake Alfred Beverage Castle store.
The Florida Poison Information Center has reported that between January and October, 149 overdoses and three deaths in Florida were linked to these bath salts, while another 374 overdoses, including two deaths, were linked to fake marijuana.
Because of the health risks these products pose, Judd said, his office would keep cracking store on stories in Polk County that sell it.
“We will continue to check stores and make sure they are complying with the law,” Judd said.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.