River Forest police arrest store manager for drug paraphernalia


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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

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.

Reader Comments

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OP Transplant  

Posted: October 21st, 2013 10:58 AM

I'm not sure it's fair to criticize the police for enforcing existing laws. That's kind of what they're supposed to do.

Mike from Forest Park  

Posted: October 20th, 2013 6:18 PM

I know the owner of Puffs and I have been going there for cigarettes since I was 18 and he is definitely the most pleasant convenient store keeper I have ever met, Arresting him is absurd. Kids will always smoke weed, regardless of whether they have a quality glass pipe to use or some kind of dangerous and unhealthy object like an aluminum can. So they may as well have access to safe tools. This arrest shows a total lack of compassion and understanding about the problem of drugs in society.

Former OP Resident  

Posted: July 2nd, 2011 12:37 PM

Yeah, it's all the paraphernalia that's sold here that's causing problems... this is a sad excuse of police trying to look like they're accomplishing something because they're too clueless to take down any of the massive drug rings in the oak park river forest area. I agree: What a Joke.

O P Resident  

Posted: June 7th, 2011 2:43 PM

I was hoping the Brew pub in Comcast.


Posted: June 7th, 2011 1:53 PM

There will be retail space available in the Comcast building.

Another OP resident  

Posted: June 7th, 2011 1:37 PM

Now those customers will have to go who knows where for their accessories. Like maybe a bad neighborhood.

Oak Park Parent  

Posted: June 7th, 2011 11:56 AM

Strange comments. It's illegal to sell drug paraphernalia, and it contributes to a significant social problem in our community. It's the job of the police to enforce laws and protect the community. The police did exactly what they were supposed to do.

What a joke from Oak Park  

Posted: June 7th, 2011 9:22 AM

Wow, way to catch the real criminals.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 4th, 2011 3:35 PM

You've got nothing to say but you're sayin' it. Nasty comment.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 4th, 2011 12:16 AM

This is a state wide ban. Plenty of reports in the media and trade papers.

OP Resident  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 10:55 PM

JC, since when does a guy who owns a business here and lives in Carol Stream have to read any local news? I wonder how they notify local businesses of new laws and ordinances as well.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 10:22 PM

There were countless news stories about the lighter ban. Mr. Patel cannot claim he was not aware of the law. Several of these lighters look just like a handgun. Banning them was proper. I hope this incident does not cost him his business license.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 9:49 PM

Couldn't River Forest PD have just written this guy a local ordinance violation ticket? Did they really have to charge him with two misdemeanors? Come RFPD let's not ruin this guy. It's difficult to know what you can and can't do.


Posted: June 3rd, 2011 2:08 PM

I can see giving them a ticket, but really. They seem like decent guys running a business.

Violet Aura  

Posted: June 3rd, 2011 11:54 AM

I love these guys! They are very friendly. This is ridiculous. I remember back in the day ('80s) when you could buy waterpipes at a certain record store...wink wink...And what about HEAD SHOPS? People DO roll their own cigs, too, so let's get real. And what the blazes is "exposed porn?" As opposed to what--Amish porn?

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