The owner of a tobacco shop suspected of selling spice has been indicted on a felony count of distribution and the shop itself has shuttered its doors, according to a press release from the Las Cruces Police Department.
Eduardo Daniel Diaz, 34, of the 1300 block of Witt Drive, is charged with one count of distribution of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids, a fourth-degree felony.
In January 2018, Las Cruces police officers began investigating what appeared to be an increased use of spice in the vicinity of the One Stop Tobacco Shop at 570 S. Valley Drive. Officers became aware of individuals in the area who were found to be in possession of spice, a synthetic cannabinoid and marijuana. Officers also noticed instances of littering, vandalism, drinking in public, trespassing, illegal camps and affrays in close proximity to the tobacco shop.
The investigation led officers to believe that several users were purchasing spice from the One Stop Tobacco Shop. Further investigation revealed that Diaz and shop employees sold spice only to trusted buyers whose names and photos were kept on a secret list held behind the sales counter, the release stated.
A search warrant executed May 31 on the smoke shop resulted in the discovery of 2.7 pounds of suspected spice and associated packaging, along with the secret list of spice users and buyers. The suspected spice was found in a file cabinet in the back of the shop and was not packaged for display. The suspected spice was sent to the New Mexico forensics laboratory where it tested positive for illegal substances.
Officers interviewed employees of the shop who confirmed that spice was illegally packaged and sold at the shop. The One Stop Tobacco Shop has since closed its doors.
The case was presented to a grand jury on Sept. 27 and the indictment was handed down on the same day. A criminal summons has been issued for Diaz to appear in court.
Officers continue to investigate allegations of other such sales of spice. Anyone with information on the sale or distribution of spice, or any illegal substances, is asked to call police immediately at 575-526-0795.