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Owner of Smoker's Video faces 494 charges following raid

Raids result of long-term investigation into synthetic drugs

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nine people were arrested in May 2016, during raids on three Smoker’s Video stores. On Monday, amended charges were filed, with charges being dropped in two cases, while two other pleaded out. 

Police raided the stores as part of a long-term investigation into synthetic drugs. 

The stores sell smoking devices, tobacco and adult novelties, but the raids, which began around 10 a.m. on May 18, involved synthetic drugs, like Spice or K2, at the stores on Beach Boulevard, Emerson Street and Normandy Boulevard.

Gregory and Lauri Burris were among the people arrested in an investigation. The couple is also charged with racketeering.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the investigation, dubbed Operation Chain Smokers, began in the spring of 2013 when Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco agents, and St. Johns County deputies worked a case on a synthetic drug manufacturer with known ties to Smoker's Video.

In fall 2013, JSO detectives began making undercover buys of synthetic drugs from Smoker's Video retail outlets in Jacksonville, Williams said. He said that investigation stemmed from dozens of complaints from Jacksonville citizens.

“It's been a very long-term investigation (involving) several state and local agencies in the Jacksonville area,” Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda said.

According to records, charges were amended as follows:

  • Gregory Burris now faces 494 charges, including racketeering, running a continuing criminal enterprise, the sale of controlled substances, the sale of misbranded drugs and delivery of drug paraphernalia. The drug charges are the most numerous. 
  • Lauri Burris faces four counts.
  • Ronald Brown faces 495 counts, including manslaughter in the overdose death of 16-year-old Matthew Purdy of Clay County. 
  • Jacob Chapman faces 45 counts.
  • Douglas Rowe faces five counts.
  • Elizabeth Hodges pleaded guilty to one count of selling a misbranded drug. She received probation.
  • Amanda Lindsey pleaded guilty to one count of selling a misbranded drug. She too received probation.
  • Raymond Lindsey’s and Monty Mitchek’s charges were dropped.

The next court appearance for those charged is scheduled for Nov 2.