At approximately 8 o’clock this morning, Marion County Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on a local business, reportedly searching for synthetic cannabis.
Biggies Cafe and General Store on U.S. Highway 161 near Interstate 57 was the scene of an extensive search Tuesday, in which deputies seized records of transactions, cash and suspected synthetic drugs.
According to Marion County Sheriff Jerry DeVore, the search warrant was granted after a purchase of synthetic cannabis had allegedly been made earlier.
Tuesday’s raid was not the first for the Biggies’ establishment after authorities suspected sale of synthetic drugs. The establishment, along with the Biggies Smoke Shop on the west side of Centralia, were raided last year, but charges were not pursued when the chemicals found in the seized products did not match those of banned chemicals.
This time, however, the business owner 43-year-old Kelly W. Alexander, an owner of the business, was arrested in connection with Tuesday’s warrant and subsequent search.
Alexander, a registered sex offender, was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he remained Tuesday evening, awaiting Wednesday arraignment. Law enforcement has charged him with unlawful distribution of a misbranded drug, which is a Class 2 felony, punishable by between 3 and 7 years in prison, and/or up to a $25,000 fine.
DeVore says the chemicals in the product seized Tuesday should not affect the misbranded drug charge, which is part of the new Illinois Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Alexander was convicted in 2003 in Jefferson County for criminal sexual assault of a victim between 13 and 17-years-old, which is a Class 1 felony. He was sentenced to 4-years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on that conviction.
DeVore says his deputies seized a large quantity of product — nearly 500 packages — but added he was unsure if Marion County State’s Attorney Matt Wilzbach would charge Alexander with more than the one count, based upon that quantity. He says the street value of the product totaled more than $19,000.
DeVore credited his detectives, Anthony Decker and Ryan Castleman for conducting a “superb” investigation that brought about the search warrant and the arrest.