Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Police arrest 5 in spice raids
By Staff Reports
Oct 2, 2013, 13:03

Cigarette City was raided and five people were charged with selling synthetic marijuana.

HOPEWELL — Area police are still struggling to fight the sale of the illegal drug known as spice.

On Friday, several employees of Cigarette City at 333 Cavalier Square, and Golden Express, at 11 S 15th Ave., were arrested. According to a press release from the Hopewell Police Department, five individuals were charged with Distribution of Synthetic Cannabinoids. Police said the spice was sold under several brand names and packaged as incense.

Richmond residents Sulaiman Panjwani, 40, Imran Panjwani, 30, and Sohail Panjwani, 42, were arrested and charged with distribution of the synthetic cannabinoid. Prince George residents Gayla Petery, 63, and James Petery, 69, were also arrested and charged on Friday.

Earlier in the year, two businesses in the area were put off limits to military personnel by officials at Fort Lee because the stores were selling spice. One of these was the Cigarette City store, who’s manager, Phyllis Palmer, at the time claimed they never sold the substance.

Cigarette City could not comment on the arrests made on Friday, while calls to the Golden Express went unanswered. Both stores currently remain open.

The fight to stop the sale of spice has been a hard battle, at both the local and state level. Legislation was signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell during the last General
Assembly session which added more chemicals to the list of those considered illegal. But while the list of illegal substances got longer, manufacturers have changed the mixture and new chemicals are being used in the synthetic marijuana, which are considered legal.

Spice has similar side effects as marijuana, and claims to be a safer alternative. But the chemical additives in the drug make it dangerous, and can lead to death.

Hopewell Police are still investigating the sale of spice in the city, and more charges towards other establishments may occur in the future.

“Most of our local convenience stores comply voluntarily with the updated laws restricting the sale of these products, and hopefully these arrests will send a message to the few that are not in compliance,” said Lt. Damon Stoker.

Another store manager charged with selling spice

On Sept. 30, another manager of a Hopewell convenience store was charged and arrested for the distribution of synthetic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as “Spice.”

Synthetic cannabinoids are sold under numerous brand names, and are often packaged as incense.

The Corner Store, located in the 2200 block of Atlantic St., was identified as selling a synthetic cannabinoid, police said.

Rushdi Mubarak, 39, of Colonial Heights, was charged with Distribution of Synthetic Cannabinoids.

“We will continue to identify individuals who sell these products and bring the appropriate charges, and we would like to thank the citizens who help us identify the locations that sell these products,” said Lt. Damon Stoker.

Anyone who have information on wanted persons or any crime occurring in the City of Hopewell may contact the Hopewell/Prince George Crime Solvers at 541-2202. You can also text-a-tip anonymously. Simply add “274637 (CRIMES)” to your Contacts list on your cellular phone and then text “igotcha” along with your message/tip. You will then be provided an ID number that you will use when checking the status of your tip OR picking up your reward.

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