Wake sheriff's deputies raid four Raleigh shops

Nine charged after counterfeit items, synthetic drugs found

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2012 

— Wake County sheriff’s deputies raided four shops in Raleigh on Wednesday and say they found counterfeit items, synthetic drugs and products used to conceal drugs.

Nine people were cited. The sheriff’s office drugs and vice unit launched the investigation and ensuing sweep after receiving complaints about the stores selling items that violated registered trademark rules, Phyllis Stephens, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said Thursday.

Deputies swept through three shops near N.C. State University and one near Triangle Town Center. They seized 173 items that appeared to have trademark violations, including “hide-a-stash” cans designed to resemble brand-name products, such as cans of Sprite, Red Bull, Arizona iced tea and WD-40, jugs of Clorox and boxes of Morton salt.

The officers also seized an array of pipes shaped like mini football helmets with NFL team logos and baggies with Playboy and Nike logos, Stephens said.

The deputies found an additional 330 “pirated” compact discs, 62 pairs of contact lenses and more than 3,000 packs of bath salts and synthetic cannabis.

The drugs and vice squad unit turned over the bath salts and synthetic cannabis to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for testing and confirmation, Stephens said.

In July, President Barack Obama signed into law the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act that banned the compounds commonly found in synthetic cannabis. Nearly one year before, North Carolina’s General Assembly outlawed the substance.

North Carolina is also one of 34 states to outlaw bath salts, a chemical mix that produces an amphetamine-like high.

The drugs and vice unit targeted four shops: Kitsch and Buddha’s Belly in the 2000 block of Hillsborough Street, Smoke Rings in the 3100 block of Hillsborough Street and Smoker Joker at 6111 Capital Blvd.

Three Kitsch employees – Kimberly Lynn Altman, 43, David Sessions Woodard, 30, and James Benjamin Thomas Byron, 25, all of Raleigh – have each been charged with possessing counterfeit items with a registered trademark.

One Buddha’s Belly employee, James Alford Long Jr., 42, of Cary, was charged with possessing counterfeit items with a registered trademark and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Three Smoke Rings employees – Stephanie Elizabeth Campbell, 22, and Long Hai Tonthat, 24, both of Raleigh and Samuel Aaron Kline, 33, of Knightdale – were each charged with possessing counterfeit items with a registered trademark.

Two Smoker Joker employees – Thaer Fayek Allan, 27, of Lumberton and Belal Hani Allan, 37, of Raleigh – were both charged with possessing counterfeit items with a registered trademark.

Sheriff’s deputies also charged Belal Hani Allan with felony possession of counterfeit recorded devices, according to Stephens.

The drugs and vice unit sent undercover officers into the four stores on Tuesday and purchased the illicit items, including a two-liter Coca Cola bottle with a hidden compartment from Buddha’s Belly and a 12-ounce Sprite drink can that could be used as a concealment device, according to search warrant applications made public Thursday.

All of the employees except Belal Hani Allan were issued citations at their respective stores after the raids. He was released from jail Wednesday night after posting a $3,000 bond, a jail spokeswoman reported.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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