In the first cases of their kind in Parker County under a new state law, charges against men accused of trafficking K2 in Parker County are moving forward.
Thursday, a Parker County grand jury indicted a business owner and clerk on first degree felony charges of possession of a controlled substance, more than 4 grams, less than 400 grams, with intent to deliver.
The Parker County District Attorney’s office also filed civil seizure cases in court last week seeking property and a large amount of cash found during the synthetic cannabinoid investigation.
Francisco Dinesh Uduwarage Don, 41, owner of Tobacco N More in the 3000 block of Ranger Highway in Parker County, was indicted on two felony charges.
Sanka Dilhara Welihinda, 27, a clerk at the business, was indicted on one charge.
Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes Unit investigators executed a search warrant at the business on Aug. 31, finding nearly 890 packages of synthetic cannabinoids in the business, cash and financial records.
Both men told investigators they knew the products were illegal to sell and kept the K2 hidden within the store, selling it only to trusted, known customers, according to the Parker County sheriff’s office.
“From the records which were seized, we can accurately state the suspects were making a daily average profit of $3,100,” SCU Commander, sheriff’s Lt. Mike Camp said. “At least 95 percent of those sales were directly from K2.”
Uduwarage, who has owned the store since January, was arrested again within hours of bonding out of jail on Sept. 4, accused of possessing additional quantities of K2 located in a storage facility.
The trials of testing
Several factors have slowed enforcement of the law since it took affect more than a year ago, according to investigators and prosecutors.
From some manufacturers altering the chemical makeup of products to escape the law to lack of field test kits to DPS testing backlogs, investigators have faced several hurdles in making a case in a timely fashion.
Investigators were able to use DPS lab reports from previous investigations conducted by the Weatherford Police Department to identify brands “King Kong” and “Diablo” as containing illegal synthetic cannabinoids, according to court records.
A confidential informant was reportedly instructed to buy those two brands when the person was sent into Tobacco N More on Aug. 30.
Using that information, investigators were able to obtain a search warrant for the business the following day.
Most, though not all, of the brands of K2 seized by investigators have since been shown through lab testing to contain illegal substances, according to court documents.
On Sept. 12, an investigator submitted two of each of the 21 brands of synthetic cannabinoids to Integrated Forensic Laboratories in Euless for analysis. The remaining 3,019 samples were sent to the DPS drug lab in Abilene.
Less than two weeks later, the investigator received lab results from IFL showing 17 of the 21 brands tested positive for substances outlawed by the state legislature.
As of last week, the investigator had not received results of testing by DPS.
Authorities are also asking the district court for more than $118,000 seized from Uduwarage during the investigation, as well as a 2012 Chevrolet Impala belonging to Uduwarage.
A manager at Colonial Storage, who recognized Uduwarage’s picture published in the Weatherford Democrat after his arrest, called investigators on Sept. 4 and told them that Uduwarage had rented a storage unit the day prior to his arrest.
She reportedly said Uduwarage acted suspiciously but she didn’t know what was in the unit.
During a meeting with investigators at the adult probation office, Uduwarage denied renting a storage facility.
The woman provided investigators a copy of the contract that appeared to be signed by him and the arrival and departure log. Investigators watched the unit while another obtained a search warrant for the unit.
As investigators waited at the business, three men attempted to enter to the storage unit area with Uduwarage’s passcode, according to the officer’s statement.
One of the men, 55-year-old Samuel Well Toler, was reported to have a parole violation warrant and was arrested at the scene.
Another man reportedly told investigators that Uduwarage had instructed them to retrieve money from the unit and bring it to him at the probation office so Uduwarage could pay his bond.
A black bank bag containing more than $9,000 was reportedly found in possession of the men. Uduwarage later told investigators he asked the men to retrieve the money from his house so he could pay his bondsman.
After Uduwarage later admitted to renting a storage unit and gave consent to search it, investigators located nearly $94,000 in cash in two suitcases in the unit.
They also reportedly found 2,191 additional packages of K2, for a total of 13,494 grams, or about 30 pounds.
Uduwarage was arrested again on an additional charge and remained in the Parker County Jail Monday with bond set at more than $950,000, according to jail records.
A seizure warrant for his car, a 2012 Chevrolet Impala, was executed Sept. 6 after Uduwarage reportedly said that he purchased the car with cash in July and that Tobacco N More was his only source of income.
Uduwarage isn’t the only one facing a civil seizure case following the investigation.
Dillon Floyd Baker, 21, of Mineral Wells, was named in a second seizure case filed last week.
According to court documents, investigators seized $1,400 in cash from Baker, who allegedly attempted to arrange a mass quantity purchase of K2 from plain clothes officers executing a search warrant at the store and later told them he purchased about $700 worth of synthetic cannabinoids from the store on a daily basis.
Though a marked law enforcement vehicle was parked outside and a uniformed officer was present in the store at the time, Baker reportedly entered the showroom portion of the business and negotiated a purchase of K2, stating he was a steady customer, according to the officer’s affidavit.
After going outside to retrieve his money from the vehicle, officers detained him and two others who were in the vehicle. A large roll of money - $1,400 - was reportedly found sitting on the center console of the vehicle.
Baker stated he intended to use it to purchase synthetic cannabinoids, according to investigators’ statements.
They also found an electronic scale during a search of the vehicle.
Baker allegedly told them that he purchases large quantities of Diablo and King Kong from the business owner and that he delivers it to a family member, who sells the K2 as an “over the road” truck driver.