Denham Springs — A convenience store clerk has been arrested on hundreds of drug counts after two students overdosed at Denham Springs High School, police have said.
Essam Farhat, 36, faces one count of distribution of a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance and 228 counts of possession of a Schedule I with intent to distribute, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Two students were hospitalized on Dec. 15 after smoking a liquid substance known as “Juicy,” an illegal synthetic cannabinoid ingested using a vaporizer, said Denham Springs police Detective Glenn Lemoine.
The students told investigators they purchased the drugs from the Magnolia Express at 2366 S. Range Road. Farhat, the owner who also worked as a cashier, sold the drugs through his store, hiding the purchases by ringing up newspapers for $50 to $80, said narcotics Detective Steven Lovett.
An undercover officer bought some of the substance, which was submitted to a State Police Crime Lab, where earlier this month it tested positive for butaldehydeamidoindolecarboxamide, a synthetic form of the active ingredient in marijuana, Denham Springs police wrote in a news release.
While the Denham Springs High students survived, the chemicals in synthetic marijuana can be dangerously toxic, Lemoine said.
“Kids are dying from this stuff all over the place,” he said.
On Thursday, city police and state Alcohol and Tobacco Control agents raided Farhat’s store, where they found 30 bottles of Juicy in a chest hidden behind the register and nearly 200 more concealed behind a fake wall, the detectives said.
Most were in unlabeled containers. The drugs have an estimated street worth of about $14,000. Detectives also seized nearly $17,000 in cash believed to have come from prior drug sales.
Farhat was booked into the Livingston Parish Detention Center, initially on a $11.5 million bond, the release says. However, Lovett said a judge later reduced it to $85,000, which has been posted.
The store’s alcohol and tobacco licenses have been suspended pending a revocation hearing with ATC scheduled for Thursday, Lovett said.
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