Police raid East Greenwich convenience store, charge owner
Police in East Greenwich raided a convenience store on Wednesday and arrested and charged the owner with selling synthetic marijuana.
Investigators claim Rakesh Patel was selling the drugs at the East Greenwich Farm store on Main Street.
Police told NBC 10 they seized up to $54,000 from the store and other items. Investigators accuse Patel of selling synthetic marijuana with the brand names "Crazy Monkey" and "Bizarro" at the East Greenwich Farm store.
Synthetic marijuana was outlawed in Rhode Island last year. It is typically pre-packaged herbs that have been treated with chemicals meant to simulate the effect of the drug THC.
But some officials claim its effects are different than marijuana and can be life threatening.
Investigators said it was a sting they were working on for several months.
"We utilized a series of purchases utilizing a confidential informant. We then were able to get an undercover officer inside the store who was able to make some purchases from the owner of the store. We then proceeded to obtain a search warrant and an arrest warrant for the owner of the store," said Detective Sgt. Jon Chirnside.
Patel, 40, is known as "Ricky" to regular customers at his store.
"He's a nice guy. Dude's always super friendly. Never seemed anything weird about it," said Chris McCartney, who lives near the store.
"It's disappointing. Ricky's a good guy. We're always coming in, giving him our business," added Tony Tallini.
Some customers, like Victoria Sheehan, showed up at the store not knowing what happened, only to find the door locked following the police raid and Patel's arrest.
"I'm surprised. He's really nice. He's a cool guy. Everyone knows him around here," she said.
Patel, who lives in Warwick, was arraigned and ordered held without bail on Thursday.