SCU Nets K-2 Arrests, Thousands in Seized Products
SEPTEMBER 1, 2012.
SCU Nets K-2 Arrests, Thousands in Seized Product
Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes Unit members conducted a search warrant resulting in the seizure of 890 packages of K-2, also known as synthetic marijuana/cannabinoids.
The search warrant was conducted Friday evening, Aug. 31, 2012, at the Tobacco & More store located at 3017 Ranger Highway.
SCU Commander, Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Camp said local smoke shops have been under investigation for the past year since the state law was passed on Sept. 1, 2011, banning the use, possession or purchase of K-2.
SCU members stated law enforcement officials have been “behind the curve” when it comes to building and prosecuting similar cases as well as identifying K-2 due to lack of laboratory testing.
“Proper testing is now currently available and has proven beneficial to local and state cases,” Camp said. “This is a monumental win for law enforcement and state prosecutors.”
Friday’s search warrant resulted in the arrests of Francisco Don Uduwarage, 40, of Weatherford, the store owner, who implicated himself to SCU investigators, saying he knew the product he was selling was illegal. Although, the product packages state K-2 is not for human consumption, Uduwarage told investigators, those who purchased K-2 also purchased products used to smoke it.
Friday, SCU investigators seized 890 K-2 packages, equaling 3,096 grams or seven pounds, with a low-end street value of $26,700.
“From the records which were seized, we can accurately state the suspects were making a daily average profit of $3,100,” said Sheriff’s SCU Lt. Mike Camp. “At least 95 percent of those sales were directly from K-2.”
K-2 name brands Diablo and King Kong are widely known and frequently requested by customers. During the search warrant, SCU investigators seized 209 packages of Diablo, totaling 705 grams. More than 300 grams of King Kong were also seized, equaling 105 packages.
A store clerk, identified as Sanka Dilhara Welihinda, 27, of Weatherford, was also arrested Friday. Both men are Sri Lanka citizens and told investigators they are not U.S. citizens. Local officials have contacted Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS.)
Both men told investigators they knew the products were illegal to sell and kept the K-2 hidden within the store and only sold it to trusted, known customers.
“It is clearly obvious what the main intended sales of the store was,” said Fowler. “The condition of the store presented possible health hazards. K-2 and some tobacco sales were the main products being sold. There was a very minimal amount of other merchandise being distributed.”
Weatherford Police Chief Mike Manning said he is proud of the investigators and wished to recognize their success.
“This is just the latest in the ongoing effort to address the K-2 and synthetic marijuana situation in Weatherford and ParkerCounty,” Manning said. “These men and women are top leaders in their field and deserve all the praise we can give them.”
Fowler said SCU investigators deserve the credit for the arrests and seizures.
“These investigators have been diligent in investigating these cases,” Fowler said. “They deserve every ounce of recognition when it comes to presenting these cases.”
A third arrest was made Friday in direct results of the investigation. While SCU investigators were conducting the search warrant, several individuals came into the store to make K-2 purchases. Karen C. Erwin, 50, of Fort Worth, entered the store and attempted to purchase K-2 and was found in
possession of 1.4 grams of suspected methamphetamine. She was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. Her bond was set at $15,000.
Uduwarage was charged with manufacturing delivery of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $75,000. Welhinda was charged with manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $50,000. As of Saturday, afternoon, both men remained incarcerated.
The case in currently ongoing and possible additional charges are pending.
Manning and Fowler agreed that Friday’s arrests hope to send a clear message to subjects who intend to traffic K-2 and synthetic cannabinoids in Weatherford and ParkerCounty.
“This will not be tolerated,” the Sheriff and Chief echoed in agreement.
Uduwarage and Welihinda made an initial appearance before County Judge Mark Riley this morning. Judge Riley placed a conditional provision upon setting their bail that both men must surrender their passports.