Roswell store new focus in synthetic pot investigation

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

Roswell, Ga. - Police have charged a man with possessing synthetic pot, but the investigation might not end there.

According to an arrest report Channel 2's Mike Petchenik obtained, officers pulled a car over at Grimes Bridge and Warsaw roads Saturday night because a tag light was out. But the officer soon became suspicious of the driver and passengers, police said.

"When the officer was talking to the driver, he was acting nervous, unusually nervous," Officer Lisa Holland said.

When officers searched the car, the report said, they found a "green, leafy" substance on a passenger, 18-year-old Freddie Espinal.

Holland said the preliminary tests concluded the substance was synthetic marijuana, which was banned last month by Georgia lawmakers. Police charged Espinal with drug possession, and he was arrested. The Fulton County jail website indicates Espinal spent three days in jail before posting a $5,000 bond Tuesday. Espinal could not be immediately located for comment.

Meanwhile, police said Espinal told officers he purchased the illegal substance from Smoke 911, a store on Holcomb Bridge Road.

"He talked about how it was under the counter, about how the clerk measured it out for him, so it wasn't in a prepackaged packs in the case," Holland said.

Holland told Petchenik police would follow up to verify whether the drugs came from the store, and if they did, charges could be forthcoming.

"They need to make sure they pull these things off the shelves if it contains that chemical that's illegal," Holland said.

An attorney for Smoke 911, which operates several stores in metro Atlanta, emailed Petchenik a statement from the company about the 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."