DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Federal authorities have shut down a criminal organization they said was manufacturing synthetic marijuana in North Texas that was selling the product at the popular head shop, The Gas Pipe.
"It's certainly a message to other retailers and distributors in the North Texas area that we are targeting," said Daniel Salter, DEA Special Agent in Charge.
Drug agents seized nearly $3 million in cash, all 11 Gas Pipe locations and the bank accounts of its owners (including one of their Highland Park homes) and six luxury cars.
"I knew there was a large profit margin in this type of business. I didn't realize how large it was," said Salter.
The arrest of a Dallas man named Lawrence Shahwan during a traffic stop sparked the investigation. He allegedly was carrying synthetic drugs when he was pulled over. Authorities said Shahwan produced and packaged the illegal drug out of his Lewisville home. Court documents allege Shahwan constantly changed the drug's name to avoid geting caught and marketed it as potpourri or incense.
The Drug Enforcement Agency said Shahwan found an exclusive retailer last year -- The Gas Pipe, at its locations around Dallas and Fort Worth. One Gas Pipe store was remodeled recently, according to the DEA, to manufacture K2.
No one would comment at The Gas Pipe store on Maple Avenue, which remains open until a court decides whether the government can take over and shutdown the 45 year old retail chain.
There's still no word on whether or not Gas Pipe owners Jerry Shults and Amy Lynn Herrig will face charges.
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