Synthetic marijuana arrests: Seven arrested at five St. Lucie County stores for sale of 'Spice'

Sheriff's office conducted month-long operation

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- Seven people were arrested at five convenience stores after a month-long investigation into the illegal sale of "Spice" by the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Ken Mascara announced Friday morning.

According to Mascara, undercover detectives visited convenience stores throughout the county to buy the synthetic marijuana.

"The first time I went in there, the merchant hesitated, looked around to see if anyone else was in the store -- I guess he felt comfortable and that's when he sold the product," Detective Micheal Gajewski said.

At the Shell station on 7961 South U.S.1, deputies arrested Natalie Bedon, 19, and Marienella Tortora, 50, of Port St. Lucie.

At the Shell station on 2475 Midway Road, deputies arrested Martin Hu, 55, of Pompano Beach.

At the Citgo station on 4101 Okeechobee Road, deputies arrested Deepak Shah, 47, of Fort Pierce. 

Masud Karim, 51, and Sultana Karim, 39, of Port St. Lucie were arrested at Food Max on 3030 South 25th Street.

Jikendra Prajaputi, 47, of Port St. Lucie, was arrested at the Dollar Store on 2557 South U.S.1.

"These merchants knew this product was not being used for incense," Mascara said. "[It was] being used to be smoked. They were part of it."

The sheriff's office seized more than 1,000 packets of the drug and more than $58,000 in cash and debit cards, Mascara said.

Synthetic marijuana recently became illegal to possess and sell in Florida.

"I received numerous telephone calls from concerned parents who told me their children were able to buy Spice here in St. Lucie County and that the drug made their children sick," Mascara said.

Mascara said the county's crackdown on the substance is ongoing, and will not conclude with the sheriff's office month-long investigation.

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