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14-055 Narcotics Detectives Execute Search Warrant At High Point Food Mart

Who:
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
-Narcotics Division

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco

Nageswara Rao Chapalamadugu (Store Owner, Arrested)
DOB: 6/11/1959
Address:14432 Eagle Pointe Drive, Clearwater
Charges: 2 counts Sale and Possession of Controlled Substance

Edward Earl Watkins (Store Clerk, Arrested)
DOB:4/6/1963
Address: 6904 Manatee Avenue W. #18B, Bradenton
Charges: 2 counts Sale and Possession of Controlled Substance

Kenneth Gene Clark (Customer, Arrested)
DOB: 9/18/1953
Address: 6097 141st Avenue North, Clearwater
Charges: Possession of a Controlled Substance

What:
Narcotics detectives have executed a search warrant at a local food mart after an investigation revealed multiple violations in the sale of synthetic cannabinoids.

Where:
The search warrant was executed at the High Point Food Mart located at 6201 150th Avenue North in Clearwater.

When:
The search warrant was executed at about 10:55 a.m. on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

How/Why:
Narcotics detectives have executed a search warrant at a local food mart after an investigation revealed multiple violations in the sale of synthetic cannabinoids. The search warrant was executed at the High Point Food Mart located at 6201 150th Avenue North in Clearwater at approximately 10:55 a.m. on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office began a campaign to notify various food marts, gas stations and retail establishments, warning them that it is illegal to sell or possess synthetic marijuana in July 2012. Deputies take pre-written letters into store owners and clerks, warning them about the risks of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as spice or K2, and that it is a third degree felony to possess or sell the product as outlined in Florida State Statute 893.03 and 893.13. To date approximately 634 letters have been given out to retail establishments throughout Pinellas County. The campaign is an effort to have store owners voluntarily remove the product from their store shelves. “If people do not want to do it voluntarily, we will serve search warrants and people will go to jail,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

According to narcotics detectives, the High Point Food Mart had been given 8 warning letters to stop the sale of synthetic cannabinoids. Between the dates of January 29, 2014 and March 16, 2014 the store sold synthetic cannabinoids a total of four times to undercover detectives and the products tested positive for JWH-11, XLR11, UR144 and AB Pinacca, all of which are controlled substances. The store again sold the product to an undercover detective prior to the search warrant being executed on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

The products sold in the store were hidden out of the public view, behind the counter and under the pizza warmer. Some of the spice sold had cartoon characters on the product packaging and appeared to be marketed to children. High Point Elementary school is less than 1 mile from High Point Food Mart. During the sale of the synthetic cannabinoids, the products were sold as a grocery items and were taxed. At times they were also allowed to be purchased with EBT cards by customers.

During the execution of the search warrant a customer in the store who had just purchased a package of the synthetic cannabinoids was taken in to custody. He has been identified as 60-year-old Kenneth Gene Clark and has been charged with possession of a controlled substance. A store clerk, identified as Edward Earl Watkins was arrested and charged with 2 counts of sale and possession of a controlled substance and the store owner, 54-year-old Nageswara Rao Chapalamadugu was arrested and charged with 2 counts of sale and possession of a controlled substance. The three men have been transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.

The investigation continues.

 

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