CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC)
Charges have now been filed against the owner of one of the smoke shops that was raided by deputies in May.
They range from illegal sale of paraphernalia to illegal use of U.S. currency as a result of the sale of those items.
But the owner of one of the shops has filed a motion of his own, seeking the return of many of those items.
Yossi Galimidi, the owner of Blaze Smoke Shop on Ryan Street, wants some 12,000 smoking pipes returned, among other items seized in a raid by deputies late May.
His attorney Glen Vamvoras filed the motion.
“Well the motion was filed to seek the return of items of merchandise we feel like were excessively seized and taken without justification and probable cause,” explained Attorney Vamvoras.
But the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office says based on their investigation, which included undercover buys, they had probable cause.
“We have enough evidence and investigation findings that say they were selling them to be used with illegal substances,” said Matt Vezinot, Commander of the CPSO’s Special Services Division.
Items confiscated range from grinders to digital scales, body cleaners and THC test kits.
Even brownie mix was removed which Vezinot questioned, “Why would you go to a smoke shop to buy brownie mix?”
Deputies also seized synthetic urine from Galimidi's home, which his attorney contends were brought there after he learned they were illegal to sell for the purpose of passing a drug test.
“Once he was aware, he took those items off the shelf,” said Vamvoras.
While both sides contend "intent" is the real issue that makes selling these items illegal, Vezinot says, “What do we use urine for? We use it for, like I said, some people have some fetishes or we use it for a drug analysis. That's the only two reasons I know somebody would use urine. So it's hard for them to say we didn't know what they were buying it for.”
Vamvoras though maintains there are multiple uses for these items. Plus, “Who makes the determination of how they were going to be used ultimately? That should not be left up to the police officers that seized the items.”
Vamvoras also contends Galimidi was treated different.
“Issuing him a summons like they did the others would have been the proper thing to do in my opinion. They decided to get a no-knock search warrant, enter his business, confiscate every item that he had for sale, arrest him and detain him without bail,” said Vamvoras.
Despite that, Vezinot and other deputies believe, “We have strong cases against them.”
Deputies say it comes down to community safety and people with high-risk jobs should not be able to work under the influence.
But many do. In 2012, one local company that issues drug tests told deputies they caught over 230 people using synthetic urine. In 2013, that number rose to more than 300. At the time of the raids, that one testing site reported nearly 100 people already caught.
Backstory here: http://www.kplctv.com/story/25656244/synthetic-urine-drug-cleansers-sold-illegally