By Megan Dooley
River Forest police seized more than 100 items suspected of being drug contraband in an investigation that eventually led to an arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia and sale of novelty lighters. The crimes allegedly occurred out of a River Forest storefront.
Chriagkumar B. Patel, 28, of Carol Stream, was charged with the two misdemeanors on May 27. Patel is the manager of Puff's Discount Cigarettes in the 7700 block of Madison Street.
According to a report released by the River Forest Police Department, officers were prompted to organize an undercover cigarette compliance check on May 26 after being tipped off that drug paraphernalia and exposed pornography were being sold out of the cigarette shop. River Forest Police Sergeant Michael Thornley said the department stages such checks from time to time to monitor tobacco sales to minors.
Officers determined upon entering the store that a number of items for sale in Puff's were indeed designed for drug use. Thornley said that while in some cases devices can be used for either tobacco or illegal drugs, police determined that the items in question were solely intended for the purpose of using illicit drugs.
The seized contraband included miniature plastic bags, generally used to package cannabis, other pipes, grinders, water bongs and more. The police also discovered lighters for sale that violate a new state statute banning stores from selling specialty lighters. The legislation forbids the sale of novelty and toy-like lighters in unusual shapes and designs — anything beyond a traditional lighter.
Thornley said River Forest goes to great lengths to protect its children from using illegal drugs and substances.
"This community is not going to tolerate drug use and abuse by our children — and by adults for that matter," he said.
Puff's Discount Cigarettes remained open during the investigation. Thornley said that it will be allowed to remain open as long as the business stays in compliance with the law.
Police did not find evidence of exposed pornography.