MELBOURNE, Fla. – A nine-month undercover investigation led to the arrests of two convenience store employees who were selling synthetic marijuana out of the businesses, Melbourne Police said.
Police on Thursday arrested Ahmed Salah Avdelwahed, 59, and Mamoun Mahmoud Hamad, 54, after conducting simultaneous search warrants at the Majestic Mart and the BP gas station on Babcock Street.
"They were hiding it. It's an illegal substance," Melbourne Police Cmdr. Marc Claycomb said.
Claycomb said Avdelwahed was the manager of the Majestic Mart. MPD said he sold the drugs, also known as K2, to undercover officers. During his arrest, they said they found 49 baggies of synthetic marijuana hiding in plain sight.
"We had a large amount of K2 stored in coffee containers on shelves for sale ... open and accessible to the general public and kids and whoever walked into the store," Claycomb said. "It's evident that the covert hiding of it, they knew they shouldn't be doing it and they're doing it."
A few blocks down the street, officers said Hamad, the owner of the BP, was also caught selling fake pot, along with Viagra.
"He was reportedly selling it per pill behind the counter to a variety of clients," Claycomb said.
Police said they are investigating possible cases of EBT fraud at that location as well.
Melbourne police said K2 appeared on their radar three years ago. Officers said it's not a big problem in the area, but they are worried about how addictive the drug can be.
"From your first go-around with this drug, you're hooked and you go through DTs and withdrawals, and you have to have more when you wake up," Claycomb said.
Claycomb said K2 is sometimes packaged as incense or potpourri. He said officers are getting calls from people in the community who are concerned about the fake pot and its effect on users.
"We also get reports from neighbors within five, 10 square blocks of that business that there are just zombies walking around, passed out in gutters, passed out in people's yards, passed out in people's porches," Claycomb said.
He said a new Florida law that went into effect last July is helping law enforcement get results and take down synthetic marijuana operations, as well as putting dealers behind bars.
"It allowed us a little more teeth in that law to crack down on the multiple variances of K2 and the chemical makeup of that product," Claycomb said.