BRANDENBURG, KY (WAVE) – Hundreds of flavor vials, detox drinks, bongs and pipes were seized from two convenience stores after half a dozen high school students got sick smoking e-cigarettes at school.
Although lab results are not complete the Sheriff believes he has enough evidence to bring drug charges against the manager of the stores and the students themselves.
Junior Brett Warren calls himself friends with several of the six students at Meade County High School who wound up in doctor's offices or the hospital after being found with E-cigarettes on campus Friday.
"You might trust your friends but you never know when somebody's gonna put something into it," Warren said. "I didn't expect it to be that serious. I didn't expect them to put that stuff in there.
"We know, other than getting it completely analyzed at the state police lab that it was synthetic THC, which is oil-based marijuana," Sheriff William "Butch" Kerrick said Wednesday. The students' admissions served as the probable cause for a search warrant served only hours later, Kerrick said.
Brandenburg Police officers, county deputies and state troopers seized hundreds of e-cig flavor vials from a Valero station on Broadway, downtown and a Dongar Food Mart and service station on Brandenburg Highway.
"This one particular store (Dongar's) was under our microscope for some period of time," Kerrick said. "We hadn't had enough to go in before."
The manager of both stores, Amit Bhagwandas Patel, 33, has been held in the Meade County Detention Center since Friday. He's charged with trafficking synthetic drugs, criminal simulation and selling drug paraphernalia.
"State law makes them illegal for juveniles, whatever they're putting in them," Kerrick said.
Patel's bond is $50,000. He lists a home address in Tacoma, WA. He faces a hold by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in addition to state charges, Kerrick said.
"Two of these six tested positive for meth," Kerrick said. "We've sent a subpoena to the hospital for records to find out what the other ones tested for too."
Both stores raided are forbidden to sell e-cigarettes pending the outcome of the investigation, Kerrick said.
A clerk at the Valero said no e-cigarettes were available when asked Wednesday afternoon.
"You guys are not allowed inside the store," Dongar's manager-on-duty said Wednesday. A clerk repeated her manager's demand that the crew leave when we asked whether smoking materials were available.
"There are a range of consequences that could occur," said Meade County Schools Superintendent Dr. John Millay.
Millay cited privacy rights for declining to specify penalties, but the district's Discipline and Attendance Code lists "possible actions" for drug possession as in-school suspension and initiating procedures for expulsion.
"All six students were charged with possession of a controlled substance yesterday (Tuesday)," Kerrick said.
One student, believed to have supplied the others with the e-cigarettes, faces six counts of wanton endangerment.
"He's 15 years old," Kerrick said. "We'd like to see them all detained."
For now, all six students remain in their parents' custody. A District Court judge may hear the case for detention June 2.
Patel is due to return to court June 3.