Mesa smoke shop owner, employee accused of selling thousands of fentanyl pills
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A months-long investigation uncovered an owner and employee of a Mesa smoke shop selling thousands of fentanyl pills to undercover officers, police say. The owner of Green Trail Smoke Shop, 31-year-old Casey Lonnie Thornton, and 29-year-old Davonte Jacoree Williams, an employee, were arrested on Thursday.
On Apr. 20, Mesa police received information that Green Trail Smoke Shop employees near University Drive and Ext Road were selling fentanyl pills to customers. The investigation began on May 12, and Williams reportedly sold 100 pills to a cop. Court paperwork says on Jun. 1, the undercover officer bought another 250 pills from Thornton, and Williams sold another 1,000 pills eight days later. However, during one sale, the officer saw Williams take the money and punch numbers into the cash register “as if he was completing a sale, but then put the money into his pocket and kept the money,” court documents say.
Investigators say on Jun. 15, Thornton sold the undercover officer 300 more pills. Court paperwork says during the sale, Thornton also told the officer he ships 20,000 pills a week to New York and Virginia. The cop returned to the shop six times during the investigation between June and October. In that time frame, Thornton reportedly sold the officer 7,000 pills. During a sale on Jun. 21, he gave the officer over 15 grams of marijuana and over 12 grams of cocaine as a “sample,” court paperwork says.
On Oct. 20, Thornton was arrested at his house in Gilbert, and Williams was arrested during a traffic stop in Chandler. Officers searched Thornton’s home and reportedly found pills in prescription bottles and multiple guns, including a rifle. Williams’ car was also searched, and police allegedly found marijuana, pills, and cocaine.
During an interview with police, court documents say Thornton told officers he had a friend that owed the cartel $700,000. He said his friend died, and now the cartel told him he “must pay what is owed,” investigators said. He then reportedly told officers a man delivers the pills to the shop, and he’s been selling them for seven months. Officers also interviewed Williams, who police say first denied selling drugs, saying they were vitamins. But when officers said they had evidence against him, Williams admitted to selling pills several times.
Thornton and Williams were booked on charges including drug possession, money laundering, conspiracy, and drug sales.
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