Federal agents raid Smoke 911 stores


ATLANTA - Federal agents raided four smoke shops across metro Atlanta on Tuesday.

Agents were looking for items related to synthetic marijuana and bath salts at Smoke 911 stores. No arrests were made Tuesday, but authorities seized bank accounts for store owners, as part of the investigation is into money laundering claims. Smoke 911, which operates several stories out of metro Atlanta advertises the sale of tobacco products.

Channel 2’s Tom Regan was at a Roswell Smoke 911 store on Holcomb Bridge Road that was raided Tuesday. In April, an 18-year-old was arrested after, police said, he was caught with synthetic marijuana from the same store.

Authorities said the stores are owned by Michael Madlem and his romantic partner Serena Buckhard. Agents executed search warrants on two homes owned by Madlem on Tuesday. They also seized bank accounts belonging to Madlem and his manager. Records show hundreds of thousands of dollars of withdrawals and deposits.

According to a search warrant, Madlem and Buckhard are suspected of conducting laundering activities in connection with the alleged illegal drug sales at the store.

After the April arrest, an attorney for Smoke 911 emailed a statement from the company about those allegations.

"Smoke 911 takes its responsibility to comply with the law very seriously, and intends to look into the allegations being reported by Channel 2," Steve Sadow wrote. "If it is determined that any employee sold a substance with knowledge that it was banned under federal or Georgia law, that employee will be relieved of his/her duties."