Four arrested during ‘fake weed’ bust

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Members of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force arrested four people March 15 after serving search warrants on convenience stores in Alabaster and Montevallo.

The task force made the arrests after locating several individually wrapped bags of salvia divinorum, which is commonly known as “serenity” or “fake weed” at each convenience store. The drugs, which previously were readily available at several retailers, were recently declared illegal by the state of Alabama.

The first search warrant came at the Mission Hills Chevron, which is in the 1600 block of Mission Hills Road in Alabaster. There, task force members arrested 25-year-old Montevallo resident Nicole Shaunte Smith and charged her with one count of unlawful possession of chemical compounds.

Smith’s bond was set at $15,000.

The next arrests came after the task force served search warrants on the Crossroads Food Mart, which is located in the 4700 block of Alabama 119.

At Crossroads, the task force members arrested Chandra Patel, 52, of Montevallo, and charged him with two counts of unlawful possession of chemical compounds and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Patel’s bond was set at $31,000.

Investigators also charged 40-year-old Nalini Chandra Patel with three counts of unlawful possession of a chemical compound and one count of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $46,000.

The third search warrant was executed at the Pit Stop, which is in the 4600 block of Alabama 119 in Montevallo. There, investigators arrested 39-year-old Montevallo resident Wilson Mwai Kamonde and charged him with four counts of unlawful possession of chemical compounds, one count of carrying a pistol without a permit and one count of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

Kamonde’s bond was set at $61,500.

All four suspects were processed at the Shelby County Jail before being released on bonds.

The arrests were part of an ongoing task force investigation into the sale of illegal chemicals intended to be used as a substitute for marijuana. The task force searched the stores March 15 after receiving complaints about illegal activity at the locations.

“These stores are making great profit by targeting children who come to buy ‘fake weed,’” said task force Cmdr. Lt. Chris George. “Store owners should conduct a review with their clerks in how items are sold and be mindful that we will follow up on all complaints, regardless of how small.”

Chandra Patel

Nalini Patel

Nicole Smith

Wilson Kamode