NEWS AND TRIBUNE
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Three area people face preliminary charges after the Indiana State Excise Police seized more than $50,000 of merchandise from Southern Indiana tobacco stores Thursday.
The agency reported the seizure of 5,339 packages of synthetic drug look-alike substances, aka “spice,” following a two-month investigation.
Spice was outlawed following legislation authored by State Senator Jim Merritt and signed into law by Governor Mike Pence in May, according to excise police.
JC’s Cigarette Outlet owner Gerald Stith, 63, Shepherdsville, Ky., was preliminarily charged with possession of a synthetic drug look-alike substance and possession with intent to deliver a synthetic drug look-alike substance after officers took 3,216 packages of synthetic drug look-alike substances from his stores.
Excise officers seized 2,114 packages of alleged synthetic drug look-alike substances at JC’s Cigarette Outlet stores in Jeffersonville, 513 packages in Clarksville, 392 packages in Charlestown and 197 packages in Tell City.
The Clarksville store was also cited for allowing juveniles into the store, the agency reported.
Smokey’s Tobacco Outlet owners Sheree Banet, 57, Lanesville, and Matthew Kaiser, 48, New Albany, were both preliminarily charged with possession of a synthetic drug look-alike substance and possession with intent to deliver a synthetic drug look-alike substance after officers took 2,123 packages of synthetic drug look-alike substances from their stores.
Excise officers seized 375 packages at Smokey’s Tobacco Outlet stores in Corydon, 408 packages in New Salisbury, 365 in Jeffersonville, 289 in New Albany, 315 in Salem and 371 in Sellersburg.
The officers were assisted by prosecutors in Floyd, Clark, Washington and Perry counties.
“The substances seized today are highly addictive and dangerous,” excise police Superintendent Matt Strittmatter said in a news release. “The State Excise Police will continue to investigate assertively all complaints regarding the possession and sale of synthetic drug look-alike substances. Additionally, we will continue to collaborate with the county prosecutors to ensure public safety.”
As the enforcement division of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, the primary mission of the Indiana State Excise Police is to promote public safety by enforcing Indiana’s Alcoholic Beverage Code. While excise officers have the authority to enforce any state law, they focus primarily on alcohol, tobacco and related laws.
Anyone with information on stores with synthetic drugs or look-alike substances can provide an anonymous tip to the State Excise Police at 812-523-8314.
— Staff Writer Gary Popp