Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson at Tuesday's news conference.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
Metro police shut down and padlocked 11 Nashville convenience stores Tuesday for their alleged sale of synthetic marijuana and other similar substances.
Metro officers, along with Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency agents, began raiding the markets at Noon as part of Operation Clean Sweep.
The markets have been declared public nuisances and padlocked orders issued by Nashville Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier.
The impacted markets are as follows:
- First Discount Tobacco, 3916 Lebanon Pike - Jones Market, 1519 Jones Avenue - Main Street Market, 946 Main Street - Mora Discount Tobacco, 5532 Clarksville Pike - Nashville Smoke Shop, 3320 Nolensville Pike - NSP Discount Beer-Tobacco, 3002 Clarksville Pike - R & H Discount Tobacco, 450A-1 Donelson Pike - Re-Re Discount Tobacco, 2618 Lebanon Pike - Toke-N-Roll, 5122-B Nolensville Pike - Toke-N-Roll, 4824 Old Hickory Boulevard - Yes We Can, 2828 Gallatin Pike
The raid comes in the wake of a new law passed in Tennessee making the sale of synthetic marijuana a felony and stores that sell the substance a public nuisance.
"Operation Clean Sweep is the first time that the new statute was used to send a message that this will not be tolerated. These products are dangerous and packaged to appeal to teens," Metro police chief Steve Anderson said.
Mark Gwynn with the TBI added, "This is the first of many operations throughout the state. We have sent warnings to those who choose not to heed the warning there are serious consequences that selling these drugs are destroying young people's lives in the state. It is our intent to take all these drugs off the shelves. You will see more of these operations, so you better get these drugs off the shelves or we are coming to see you."
Criminal charges were filed against 16 people, including a clerk at Re-Re Discount Tobacco.
He was charged with possession of a controlled substance for resale.
The clerk denied the allegations as police led him to a waiting police cruiser, but other patrons who work in the complex told Nashville's News 2 Investigates it was common knowledge that the market sold the synthetic substances, commonly referred to as bath salts.
"I know they sell it because customers have told me about it. I know they sell it because 'I've had people come by asking me to buy it for them. And I won't do it. It's illegal," Karen Hamm said.
Rebecca Weaver added,"I figure they are selling that stuff. You can get it most places still. I've been in there, but they don't keep it out where you can see it."
More than 1,800 packets of synthetic marijuana, two pounds of Dream Bars which is a synthetic substance similar to Xanax, as well as a significant amount of drug paraphernalia and more then $106,000 cash were confiscated during the raid.
The markets will remain padlocked pending a court hearing in which market owners must appear on Thursday at 10 a.m.