Crime news

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force agents recently completed the initial stages of an investigation into reports that convenience stores within the four-county circuit were distributing suspected marijuana.

“This is absolutely marijuana being sold as ‘hemp flower’ in at least one store in each county,” Task Force Commander Patrick Doyle said.

Doyle said an ongoing investigation revealed a number of convenience stores were indeed selling marijuana, leading agents to apply for arrest warrants for area store owners.

These stores were located in Chattooga, Dade, Walker, and Catoosa counties.

The Task Force operates in Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties with officers currently assigned from the LaFayette and Fort Oglethorpe police departments and deputies from the Walker, Dade and Chattooga sheriff’s offices.

The illegal substances were packaged with misleading labels indicating the contents were “Legal in all Fifty States,” contained “CBD,” and had been “Lab Tested.”

The first store owners arrested and booked on July 31, are Risilkumar Patel, 26, Cross Street. Rossville, who was booked into the Chattooga County jail, and Tanjot Bajwa, 41, Honeysuckle Trail, Fort Oglethorpe, who was booked into the Catoosa County Jail.

Additional arrest warrants — as many as five — have been obtained and more arrests are pending in this ongoing investigation, Commander Doyle said.

*WARNING TO RETAILERS/PARENTS/CONSUMERS

These products claiming to have “No THC”, “CBD”, or “Hemp Flower” may contain marijuana. These products may be ILLEGAL to distribute, purchase, or possess.

Mike O'Neal is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga. He can be reached at the Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at moneal@npco.com.