Cranston, West Warwick businessman charged in ‘bath salts’ probe
A local businessman and former youth sports coach has been charged in federal court with selling synthetic drugs known as “bath salts,” authorities announced on Thursday.
Glen Lonardo, 48, of Cranston, who owns Buddha’s Bazaar smoke shop in Cranston and Xcitement Video and Smoke Shop in West Warwick, was arrested Thursday following a year-long investigation, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond following an appearance in U.S. District Court.
The arrest was one of 150 made in 30 states over a two-day span as a result of a federal Drug Enforcement Agency-led probe into synthetic drug makers, wholesalers and retailers, authorities said.
Lonardo’s case specifically is the result of an investigation led by the Rhode Island DEA Drug Task Force and Cranston and West Warwick police. He is formally charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I controlled substance known commonly as “bath salts,” a term that applies to a range of chemical substances – from glass cleaner to incense – that some drug users consume, smoke or inject to experience a high.
In an affidavit filed in federal court, Cranston police report opening an investigation into the alleged sale and use of the drugs in the early spring and summer of 2013 after receiving complaints of erratic behavior and apparent drug overdoses in the area of Buddha’s Bazaar on Cranston Street.
The probe involved surveillance and the alleged undercover purchases of “bath salts” carrying the name “Nuke” from the store, and led to authorization of federal search warrant in August. The subsequent search resulted in the seizure of nearly 200 packets and bags of the drugs, according to the affidavit, with labels including “Nuke,” “Krush,” “Frenzy” and “Blast.”
At that point, according to the affidavit, the investigation was expanded to include Xcitement Video and Smoke Shop on Quaker Lane in West Warwick. That operation also included numerous undercover alleged purchases of “bath salts” by police.
In January of this year, the affidavit states, West Warwick police responded to a breaking and entering report at Lonardo’s Quaker Lane business and came across several packages labeled “Nuke.” Based on that discovery, police obtained a search warrant, which resulted in the seizure of additional drugs and Lonardo’s arrest on state drug charges.
Lonardo previously served as a coach and board member with Cranston’s League for Cranston’s Future, or CLCF. He resigned from the league in January.