Federal authorities took away box after box of product from Dirt Cheap and Island Smokes that they claim is synthetic marijuana mislabeled to avoid drug regulations.
A federal indictment accuses the smoke shops of selling synthetic drugs between October 2013 and April of this year. It claims the owners made more than $100,000 off their sale in one year alone.
Authorities arrested 36-year-old Allen Peithman Jr., 69-year-old Sharon Elder, and 26-year-old Jacie Sanne. The three face harsh penalties and fines.
Peithman is Elder’s son. Sanne worked for them.
Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong says while they weren’t the only ones selling synthetic drugs, their operation was the largest.
The charges result from a 14 month investigation.
Lincoln Police Chief Jim Perschong says the drugs aren’t as innocent as sellers claim.
“A lot of these people who have used this synthetic marijuana are going to have medical problems and issues for the rest of their lives that they’re going to have to contend with,” according to Perschong.
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson says the problem of synthetic drugs extends well beyond Lincoln, leaving ruined lives and shattered families in their wake.
“These facilities and these individuals were responsible for that,” Peterson says. “They were distributing, they were making profit, and they were taking advantage of destroying lives. I can’t think of a more wretched way to earn a living than destroying young people’s lives by selling these products.”
U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg says the investigation doesn’t stop here.
“I want to assure the members of the public that everyone here, both on the federal, state, and local level, are all working very hard to continue this investigation and to follow it wherever it leads and to bring any other individuals that are similarly situated in selling synthetic marijuana to our community that they are also brought to justice,” Gilg says.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this story.