HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Federal agents raided dozens of convenience stores in northern St. Louis County, Mo., on May 23 concerning possible synthetic drug sales and cigarette sales across state lines, said a KTVI report.
Locations allegedly include Mally's Markets, 6 Star Market and Northway Market, among others, the report said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) participated in the raids, with support from St. Louis-area police departments.
This multi-jurisdictional task force is targeting convenience stores, gas stations, cigarette shops and liquor stores, the report said. Witnesses told the news outlet that they saw agents pulling merchandise from stores, going through dumpsters and confiscating weapons and an ATM.
“Federal special agents with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, with additional federal, state and local law enforcement partners, are conducting a law enforcement operation in and around St. Louis on May 23,” said an ICE statement obtained by the news outlet. “As this operation involves an ongoing investigation, no further details are publicly available at this time.”
Jim Shroba, head of the St. Louis office of the DEA, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that agencies served 23 search warrants, eight related to an investigation by the DEA, the others related to the HSI and the IRS.
He declined to detail what was being sought in the raids.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the raids were tied to the illegal sale of cigarettes and K2, a marijuana-like synthetic drug.
“We are working in conjunction with an ongoing investigation in the southern district of New York,” John Mantovani, one of the federal prosecutors working on the case, told the newspaper. He said DEA agents from New Jersey had made one arrest. “At this time, there are no St. Louis charges.”