Prosecutor files drug charges against local business owners

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 17, 2012

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Six individuals are facing numerous charges from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office for their alleged roles in what is being called a “drug enterprise” operated out of two Shelby Township businesses.

Following months of investigation by the Shelby Township Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a mother, three sons and two grandsons are facing charges for possession and sale of numerous narcotics, including cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, hydrocodone and the synthetic cannabinoids often marketed as K2.

“To all those selling K2 and synthetic drugs or thinking about selling them, we are going to find you, and when we do, we are going to prosecute you,” Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis said Dec. 14 after the charges were announced by the prosecutor.

The charges stem from evidence collected Oct. 31 after Shelby Township police served search warrants at homes in West Bloomfield and Sterling Heights, as well as at the CITGO gas station located at 46555 Van Dyke Ave. and the Woodstock Tobacco and More smoke shop at 46699 Van Dyke Ave.

The suspects, who own and operate the CITGO gas station and the Woodstock Tobacco and More smoke shop, and range in age from 63 to 17, were scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 17, after press time.

Along with legal ramifications, the charges have also led CITGO to initiate “debranding” actions against the Shelby Township business.

“Acting on our core values, CITGO Petroleum Corporation has long maintained a strong and unwavering position against the sale of harmful substances, such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts,” according to a statement from CITGO that was emailed to the Shelby-Utica News.

“In fact, the sale of such substances, also known as Spice and K2, in a CITGO-branded location is prohibited under our Marketer Franchise Agreement. We were deeply disappointed to learn that a locally owned station in Shelby Township has been charged with violating this policy and selling these products.

“Steps to debrand this station in Shelby Township are under way. At CITGO, our commitment to local communities continues to be our No. 1 priority. That includes helping keep the children in those neighborhoods safe.”

Following the Oct. 31 searches, Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers said officers seized different illicit substances, including a large amount of synthetic narcotics, most of which were kept in a storage unit in Sterling Heights.

“We won’t tolerate K2 within our county’s borders,” said County Prosecutor Eric Smith in a release. “We will take down anyone who attempts to distribute this insidious drug.”

Along with the narcotics, which Woelkers said were tested by the Michigan State Police, officers seized several vehicles and more than $20,000 in cash.

The search warrants were the result of what Woelkers called “a communitywide issue in Shelby Township.”

Problems local teens and young adults were having with the substances were brought to the forefront of public attention with a protest outside of the CITGO and Woodstock Tobacco and More June 2.

At the June 2 rally, Derick Dabish, the owner of the CITGO gas station, said his store had pulled the products from its shelves just prior to CITGO corporate banning the substances from their stores, and that he was looking forward to working with the community.

After the June 2 protest, an anonymous tip from residents led township and county authorities to converge on Woodstock Tobacco and More June 11. The search resulted in officials finding no contraband, but employees at the store became irate upon the appearance of the county officials and members of the media.

Woelkers said he had received numerous inquiries about and tips of illicit activity at the two businesses following the June 11 search and expressed his gratitude to the public for patience and understanding while his department conducted its investigation.

“Our narcotics detectives have put an immense effort into this investigation over the past six months,” Woelkers said in a release. “These efforts have led to the issuance of the charges being announced today.”

“I am very proud of our police department’s efforts in this investigation and commend Police Chief Roland Woelkers for pursuing this investigation and seeing it through to the end,” Stathakis said.