Don's Smoke Shop, Black Pearl busted for 'spice, bath salts'
VERDE VALLEY -- The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Special Crimes Detectives and the Partners Against Narcotic Trafficking Taskforce served search warrants on smoke shops in Cottonwood and Cornville, which yielded illegal drugs.
Detectives served search warrants at The Don's Smoke Shop, in the 900 block of North Main Street in Cottonwood and at the Black Pearl store, located in Cornville. Both businesses are owned and managed by the same individuals. The investigation began after the agencies received tips that both locations were still secretly selling substances that included "bath salts" and "spice."
Several suspects were arrested including Black Pearl's owner, 27-year-old Christopher Donahue. Other suspects included employees of the businesses, 22-year-old Mercedes Walsh, 21-year-old Alexander Boston and 22-year-old Mickey Larm. Numerous charges were requested including possession of dangerous drugs for sale.
The products were eventually banned by the Legislature, after Cottonwood passed its own law that took effect Jan. 3. At that time The Don's, which had been protested for selling one formula of bath salts called "Window Cleaner," announced it would no longer be sold. The substances were marketed as legal highs before the ban.
After the search warrants were served, a sign on the window at the Black Pearl announces the business is closed, with an editorial comment on the illegality of bath salts.
"The Legislature took a stance against these drugs because of the harmful effects and collateral damage they can do. We've seen firsthand the impact these substances have had on the people who use them, particularly on juveniles. It's especially disturbing to know that these substances were being sold out of local businesses," said Cottonwood Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Gareth Braxton.
"When we get information such as this, not only does it cast a significant shadow on the business, but also on legitimate customers and places them under suspicion of participating in criminal activity. These arrests bring to light the fact that we still have work to do in our enforcement and education efforts," he went on to say.