Smoke shop bust will help sheriff's office buy new helicopter

FRESNO, Calif. -- The Federal government discovered Stuffed Pipe Smoke Shops in Fresno, Visalia, and Bakersfield were involved in the sales and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids, but these drugs, in a variety of packaging, were deadly.

"There have been deaths reported, serious bodily injury, and there are extreme psychological effects from taking the drug," said Karen Escobar, Asst. US Attorney.

The substance known as XLR 1 has also been linked to a large number of suicides. The owner of the Stuffed Pipe stores, Victor Nottoli, pleaded guilty to federal charges, connected to 24 tons of the stuff. He forfeited six and a half million dollars in proceeds.

"We are taking the money out, the profit out of crime, and we are putting it back into the community through law enforcement," said Phil Talbert Us Attorney Eastern Dist. CA.

A big check for nearly $2-million was presented to Sheriff Margaret Mims, by the IRS. Mims said the money will be put to good use.

"With this amount of money being deposited we are well on our way to making sure we have the funding to replace our second helicopter in our air enforcement unit."

In addition, to the money the Sheriff's office got a pickup truck seized from Nottoli. He is scheduled to be sentenced next year, and could face life in prison.

Several other co-conspirators in the case have already been sentenced to terms of from 11 to 13 years in prison.

Dealing in the synthetic drugs ladled as herbs, bath salts, incense, and spice reportedly brought in more than $30-million. The stuff was manufactured in Stockton and distributed in the Central Valley and nationwide.
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