Guilty verdicts in first synthetic pot trial in Georgia

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. —

The district attorney in Douglas County told Channel 2 Action News the recent convictions of a store owner and his sister for dealing synthetic drugs will likely lead to more aggressive prosecution across the state.
               
"When we're getting told stories that our teenagers are getting sick, and having heart attacks and some even dying, we're going to do whatever we can to stop the sale of this substance to our teenagers,” said Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner.
 
Last August Douglas County deputies raided Elite Adult Novelty shop, and two other stores and seized numerous packets of suspected illegal synthetic marijuana. 
 
The seizures followed undercover drug buys. Drug agents also searched the home of the store's owner, Ricky Awtrey, and found evidence that the drugs were being manufactured in the home.
 
They said documents indicated Awtrey had purchased kilos of chemicals used to make the drug.
 
"He had packaging equipment where you could actually package the material. He had been ordering from China certain chemical compounds. He had the ability to spray this down and manufacture the drug himself," said Fortner
 
Last week a Douglas County jury convicted Awtrey and his sister on felony drug charges. The verdict came after an hour and half of deliberations.
 
The district attorney said changes to strengthen synthetic drug laws in the state aided in the prosecution.
 
"In the past it was getting the law where it needed to be. And finally the law is where it needs to be in terms of protecting teenagers and the public from this type of substance," Fortner said.
 
The assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case hopes it sends a strong signal to those dealing the drug.
 
"I don't think anyone selling this has a conscience. They are in there to make money and that's all they're doing. Hopefully this will encourage law enforcement to fight against this, because it's nothing but poison," said prosecutor Steve Knittel.
 
Ricky Awtrey and Barbara Awtrey are scheduled for sentencing in August.