Three markets padlocked for selling synthetic opiates; thousands of bottles seized from wholesale locations

Staff Reports • Updated Mar 17, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Three Nashville convenience markets that peddle liquid “relaxation shots” containing a chemical specifically banned by Tennessee law because of its opiate characteristics are now shut down after Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier declared them to be public nuisances in temporary injunctions and padlocking orders issued Monday.

The markets involved were Market Discount Tobacco & Beer at 862 Robinson Road with Mina Yousef listed as owner; Madison Discount Tobacco & Beer at 1442 Gallatin Pike N. with Jimmy Patel listed as owner; and Litton’s Corner Market at 2830 Gallatin Pike with Hanna Anki listed as owner.

Ongoing work by undercover officers from Nashville Metro’s specialized investigations division and Madison Precinct, in coordination with the district attorney’s office, revealed the three markets sell bottles of product, such as “Viva Zen,” “Mr. Smiley Kratom Relaxation Shot” and “Mr. Smiley Euphoria Party Shot” for about $10 per bottle. 

An analysis by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation laboratory of the liquids bought by undercover officers revealed the presence of the chemical Mitragynine, a psychoactive agent that mimics the effects of opiates ranging from sedation to pain reduction to intense euphoria.  Mitragynine has also been found to cause a host of opiate side effects, including nausea, dizziness, constipation and, in the worst cases, hallucinations and delusions.

As the padlocking orders were executed, detectives received information two Nashville wholesalers were storing significant quantities of the substance.  Nearly 4,000 bottles were seized Monday afternoon from Rum Wholesale on Dickerson Pike and FAB Wholesale on Fernco Drive.

The Tennessee General Assembly in 2013 declared Mitragynine and chemicals like it to be illegal and made it a crime to manufacture, distribute or sell any product containing such substances.

“In recent years, certain convenience markets in our city have elected to sell chemicals, made who knows where, that mimic the effects of controlled substances like marijuana and opiate pain killers,” Nashville Metro police Chief Steve Anderson said. “We believe these liquids to be inherently dangerous and a threat to the health and safety of this community.  Market owners who choose to deal in these products should see today as yet another indication that we are very serious about keeping these liquids off the streets.”

District Attorney Torry Johnson, whose office filed the public nuisance complaints, said the message being sent to markets today and in prior months couldn’t be clearer.

“The nuisance statute has proven to be a very effective tool in helping combat those businesses that make substances like this available to our community,” Johnson said.  “Any stores or businesses that continue to sell and provide these illegal substances risk being shut down.” 

The three markets padlocked Monday will remain closed until at least March 24, when their owners are to appear before Dozier during an 11 a.m. hearing.

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