Gaston County tobacco shop owners charged with trafficking synthetic marijuana

- The co-owners of two tobacco shops in Gaston County are facing charges after an investigation by several departments into the manufacturing and sale of synthetic marijuana.

Officers and agents of the Bessemer City, Gaston County and Mount Holly Police Departments, along with the DEA, SBI, Department of Revenue and Homeland Security, raided Johnny's E Cigs in Bessemer City and Shaw's Pipe World in Gastonia on Friday after receiving numerous complaints in the sale of synthetic marijuana. 

Co-owners, John Ken Hawkins, III and Letha Baker Shaw were both arrested at Johnny's E Cigs and charged with trafficking thorough sale/manufacture and possession of synthetic marijuana.

Agents and detectives seized about 6,000 grams of the synthetic drug, numerous firearms and an undisclosed amount of money from the different locations.

Hawkins and Shaw were taken to the Gaston County Sheriff's Office. Their bonds set at $250,000.

FOX 46 Charlotte launched an investigation into Johnny's E Cigs in September 2016 after learning the tobacco shop had been selling the synthetic marijuana, which was marketed as incense. 

Related: Police continue to battle dangerous synthetic marijuana

After Hawkins kicked FOX 46 Charlotte out of the store, he decided to speak.

"Some people are saying you guys know people misuse this, some people say a lot of things. Some people say the government has got a cure for cancer and won't let it out, doesn't make it true, though," Hawkins told FOX 46 Charlotte back in September. 

Related: Synthetic marijuana user "lights up" for cameras

David Sentendrey has been following this story from the beginning. He'll have a full report tonight on FOX 46 News at 10 p.m. 

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