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updated: 6/26/2012 6:26 PM

Itasca tobacco shop employees charged in synthetic drug sting

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  • Sureshbhai Patel

    Sureshbhai Patel

  • James Barker

    James Barker


Two employees of an Itasca tobacco shop were arrested after an undercover investigation into the sale of synthetic marijuana, which has been banned in Illinois, police said Tuesday.

Sureshbhai Patel, 53, of Des Plaines, and James Barker, 28, of Itasca, were charged after police searched Itasca Tobacco, 1215 W. Irving Park Road, according to a news release.

Narcotics investigators with the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group said they informed Patel, the store manager, late last year of a state law change in January banning synthetic marijuana, and he signed a document stating he understood.

In February, officers learned Itasca Tobacco was again selling the drug, police said. They said they subsequently conducted a series of undercover purchases before executing a search warrant Monday.

DuMeg Director Matt Gainer said police seized about 75 grams of synthetic pot. He said Patel stored the inventory off-site and did not display it inside the store but sold it to interested customers.

Patel, of the 2000 block of Pine Street, was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a felony typically punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Barker, of the 6N400 block of Lloyd Street, was charged with felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor obstructing police for allegedly interfering with the search.

DuPage County Judge Elizabeth Sexton set bail Tuesday at $30,000 for Patel and $40,000 for Barker, who has prior convictions for armed robbery and is facing an unrelated driving under the influence charge in DuPage.

Patel posted $3,000 to bond out of the county jail. Barker remained in custody as of Tuesday afternoon.

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