PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg police and members of the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force raided two Seventh Street businesses Wednesday for allegedly selling illegal drugs.
Parkersburg police Chief Joe Martin said undercover officers made purchases of illegal synthetic drugs at Smokin Joe's and Herb Tyme on Seventh Street.
Late Wednesday afternoon authorities made their move, raiding the two establishments.
Parkersburg police raided Smokin Joe’s and Herb Tyme on Seventh Street for allegedly selling illegal
Inside Smokin Joe's, officers discovered more than $10,000, several dosage units of MDMA (synthetic ecstasy), K2 (synthetic marijuana) and bath salts (synthetic cocaine), police said. Martin said officers recovered 320, 3-gram vials of bath salts, which sell for about $120 a gram.
Police made three arrests Wednesday evening. Two co-owners of Smokin Joe's, James Edward Biles Jr., 39, and Jerold Ray McKown, 42, both of Parkersburg, were each charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
An employee of Smokin Joe's, Steven Troy Hickman, 22, of St. Marys, was charged with delivery of a controlled substance, police said.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Parkersburg police raided Smokin Joe’s and Herb Tyme on Seventh Street Wednesday for allegedly selling illegal synthetic drugs.
The raids were part of targeted enforcement of state law that went into effect last month banning K2 and bath salts.
"It may be legal in some states, but not in West Virginia," Martin said.
Police were on the scene until 7 p.m. going through the inventory of both businesses. Officers confiscated $100,000 worth of bath salts, $150,000 worth of suspected K2 and $20,000 worth of synthetic cocaine known as plant food.
Parkersburg police Wednesday raided two Seventh Street businesses, Smokin Joe's and Herb Tyme, for allegedly selling illegal synthetic drugs to undercover agents.
Two co-owners of Smokin Joe's and an employee were arrested on drug-related charges.
Police confiscated $100,000 worth of bath salts, $150,000 worth of suspected K2 and $20,000 worth of synthetic cocaine known as plant food.
Prosecutor Jason Wharton, who rode with Martin on the raids, said each offense carries a fine and possible jail sentence of one to five years.
Martin said law enforcement officials will also conduct a financial investigation of the businesses to determine if additional charges and seizures are required.
"We will of course be going through all the proper channels to revoke the business licenses of these places," said Martin. "The investigation into the financial records will take several weeks."
Martin said when the law went into effect, officers went into shops throughout the city. He said officers are not done yet.
"Our goal is to eliminate all of them in the city," he said. "Anything close to this, I don't want them in here."
Martin said the synthetic drugs compound the nation's illegal drug problem.
"We want to jump on this problem as quickly as we can. Eliminate it. Eradicate it," he said.
"Businesses like this may seem legitimate. People come in here, take their word for it that this stuff is safe and legal, when in fact it is not."
Martin said the synthetics are a schedule 1 non-narcotic, controlled substance, in the same category as cocaine.
"Hopefully, the message will be on the front page," said Martin. "This is a significant hit for this area. We still have more work to do, not just with this business but with others like it."
There shouldn't be a business like this in Parkersburg," the chief added. "Tattoos are one thing. But going in to buy paraphernalia or purchase illegal drugs is on a totally different level."
Local neighbors were overjoyed with news of the raids.
"Yeah!" exclaimed a neighbor. "They were some bad people."
Another man, who said he alerted police about the businesses last month, was also pleased by the raids.
"Looks like my calls paid off," he said.