Hitesh Jayant Patel, 42, of Richmond Hill, turned himself into authorities Wednesday, charged with one count of sale of a controlled substance (schedule I) and is being held at the Chatham County Detention Center.
The Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are warning the community following a joint operation resulting in a large seizure of various forms of synthetic cannabinoids at two Savannah businesses.
On Friday, Jan. 18, CNT and the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad executed two search warrants at Tobacco Palace located at 139 East Montgomery Crossroad, and Tobacco Palace located at 13051 Abercorn St., Suite A-6.
As a result of the search warrants, CNT arrested Patel, one of the store’s owners.
The search warrants resulted in the seizure of various forms of synthetic cannabinoids, some of which are believed to contain 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA also known as SGT-78, a Schedule I controlled substance in the State of Georgia. Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamie (LSD), and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA/ecstasy). In addition, all similar items found inside the store were seized. A number of the seized items will be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab for testing. The search warrants also resulted in the seizure of more than $18,000 in cash.
The joint CNT and DEA operation began in July 2018 following information from the Tybee Island Police Department. Tybee Police reported an incident where a juvenile’s parents alerted authorities that their child overdosed or had a reaction after ingesting Kronic Juice, a synthetic cannabinoid. During that incident, it was reported the juvenile suffered from seizures and manic episodes immediately after ingesting the substance.
The investigation determined the substance was purchased from the Tobacco Palace. As the investigation furthered, agents linked multiple drug-related overdoses to local high school aged students throughout Chatham County. In addition, the investigation suggested a number of high school aged students, under the age of 18, were unlawfully purchasing the items that were advertised similar to cigarette products. The lawful age to purchase those type of products is 18.
Over the course of the five-month investigation, undercover agents with CNT and DEA made multiple purchases of various forms of synthetic cannabinoids from the Tobacco Palace on East Montgomery Crossroads and the one on Abercorn Street.