LATEST: Convenience store owner claims synthetic marijuana for personal use

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Surjit Singh Dhillon

A Greencastle area convenience store owner was jailed after thousands of dollars of illegal synthetic marijuana was found during a raid on the business Tuesday night.

Surjit Singh Dhillon, 45, Leesburg, Va., owns Molly Pitcher Mini-Mart, 13640 Molly Pitcher Highway, Greencastle, in Antrim Township. He is in Franklin County Jail, charged with drug offenses stemming from the sale of illegal synthetic marijuana at the store. Dhillion is jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Members of the Franklin County Drug Task Force served a search warrant on the store at 8:40 p.m. Jan. 14 and seized 170 packets of illegal synthetic marijuana, which are a Schedule I controlled substance. The search warrant was the result of an investigation that began in the fall of 2013 into the sale of synthetic marijuana from the business.

Authorities said the synthetic marijuana seized had a street value of $7,700. Police said a stolen handgun was also found during the raid of the store.

A news release from Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogel said the investigation was based on "complaints received from parents and concerned citizens, as well as information obtained from confidential informants... During the course of the investigation, surveillance was established on the business and several sales of suspected synthetic marihuana were observed. Investigators were also able to conduct several controlled purchases of synthetic marihuana from the store, using confidential informants, during the course of the investigation."

Authorities said Dhillon was working behind the counter when the search warrant was served. He was subsequently identified as the store's owner. The news release said "upon being searched, Dhillon was found to have several packets of synthetic marijuana on his person."

A stolen handgun was found inside a drawer behind the counter in the area where Dhillon was working, authorities said. Court documents say the gun was a 22 caliber North American Arms revolver, stolen from a victim in Franklin County.

Investigators also found over 170 packets of synthetic marijuana during the search, the majority of which were found hidden above the drop ceiling tiles and insulation in a storage room in the back of the store. According to court records, the synthetic cannabinoids and devices used for smoking and ingesting the substances were also found intermixed with other merchandise, hidden behind panels and in other inconspicuous areas.

Dhillon told authorities the substances were for his personal use, and that he did smoke them, as documented in the police criminal complaint.

The synthetic marijuana recovered consisted primarily of the brand names "Hookah Blast," "Bizarro," and "Funky Green Stuff," each of which is marketed as "herbal incense." Investigators found glass smoking pipes, screens and other drug paraphernalia, financial documents, counterfeit "North Face" apparel, and a large quantity of U.S. currency.

Dhillon was charged with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, distribution of a designer drug, receiving stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arraigned before District Justice Jody Eyer.

Pennsylvania State Police, the Franklin County District Attorney's Office and Chambersburg Borough Police participated in the investigation.

Anyone with information pertaining to suspected drug activity in Franklin County can contact the Franklin County Drug Task Force at 1-800-344-3127. All information provided is kept confidential and callers may remain anonymous if they wish. Tips may also be submitted via email at tips@drugtaskforce.org