BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The "BRAVE operation" kicked off in the 70805 zip code earlier this year in June with the goal being to build relationships with the community so the two could curb violence and crime together. Tuesday night was proof that relationship is working.
"They come across some information they received from a subject that was arrested about the possibility of a location in south Baton Rouge moving large amounts of synthetic marijuana," said BRPD Chief Dewayne White.
With a search warrant in hand, BRAVE, the BRPD swat, K-9 and state ATC headed to the East Blvd Food Mart on Thomas Delpit. Across the street behind a building, they found a gun and a bag of drugs. Inside in the back room of the store, boxes of packets of synthetic marijuana and cash laying around in a box. A pack of five of those sells for $50.
"We seized over $21,000 in cash and about 40 lbs in synthetic marijuana," said BRPD Cpl. Tommy Stubbs.
To be exact, police found $21,707 in cash.
From the doors, shelves and even the fridge, officers searched the entire store. Behind the counter, an Alcohol and Tobacco Control agent checked receipts for prior transactions.
"Commissioner Hebert signed an emergency suspension of this location. They will not be able to serve or sell any tobacco products from this location," said Agent Barthelemy.
That's because undercover agents came and bought synthetic marijuana from the location earlier Tuesday. Those samples were then sent to the crime lab where they tested positive so from this point forward, cigarette sales are banned at the store.
The top cop credits all of it to five men.
"This bust is directly related to the relationship that BRAVE has with the community they began to work with," said Chief White.
Police only arrested one person, the owner of the store, Bernard Oti, 57. After searching his food mart, police then went to his house in north Baton Rouge, where they found another 100 pounds in synthetic marijuana. Oti is charged with distribution of synthetic marijuana and possession with intent to distribute.