HOUSTON--Two men are in the Brazoria County Jail and may be subject to deportation after deputies arrested them near Sweeny with more than $100,000 worth of bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
The Brazoria County Narcotics Task Force raided the Sweeny Stop grocery store at FM 1459 and Highway 35 at noon Monday. They arrested employee Shoaib Dilawar, 35, after finding a small amount of the synthetic drugs hidden behind the counter.
At the same time, agents were raiding a single-wide mobile home behind the convenience store. They arrested Ramlesh Chadotaria, 41, at the home in the 20000 block of McCormick Drive and found him with the majority of the bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
Investigators say they had been working on the undercover sting for six months and that the pair used the store and the trailer to sell drugs for roughly $35 a packet or vial.
"The sale and possession of these substances are just as serious as the real cocaine or the real marijuana," said Capt. Chris Kincheloe. "They’re in trouble."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a hold on the two men to keep them in the Brazoria County Jail while they investigate their legal status as immigrants from Pakistan and India.
Meanwhile, members of the Narcotics Task Force say their investigation is ongoing to determine if other suspects might be involved.
"On the back (of the packets and containers) there’s a caveat that says it is not illegal. Well, it is illegal," said Kincheloe. "And people say I didn’t know it was illegal to sell it because it says that it’s not. That’s crazy and it’s just getting worse."
The sale of bath salts and synthetic marijuana, usually marketed with the disclaimer "not for human consumption," was declared illegal in Texas in September 2011.
Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested 90 people nationwide and raided a factory and warehouse in Rosenberg where they say synthetic drugs were manufactured for distribution.