Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 21, 2013

Dark Wings owner still at large

Kenneth Hart
CNHI News Service

ASHLAND — Police are still searching for the owner of an Ashland business that was raided last week for allegedly selling synthetic drugs.

However, it’s believed Yvonda G. Nichols, owner of Dark Wings Novelties, has “left the jurisdiction,” Ashland Police Department Lt. Darren Wilson said Wednesday.

If so, she could be in violation of her probation in Scioto County, where she pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from the sale of synthetics at another Dark Wings store in Wheelersburg.

Police have an idea of where the 56-year-old Nichols might be, but Wilson declined to say where that was.

Nichols, of Greenup, is wanted in Boyd County on a warrant charging her with one count of use and investment of drug-related income, a Class D felony. Additional charges may be pending, police said.

The charge stems from the Feb. 13 seizure of suspected synthetic drugs and other items from Dark Wings which is in the 500 block of 29th Street. Officers converged on the business about 6 p.m. and executed a search warrant. A large quantity of suspected synthetic marijuana was seized, along with a small amount of actual marijuana, cash and a 9 mm handgun.

Police also confiscated a number of items from the shop’s inventory that are commonly associated with smoking legal and illegal substances, including pipes, hookahs, bongs and rolling papers. Those items, which are normally legal to sell, were deemed drug paraphernalia because they were found along with illegal substances.

The APD took action against Dark Wings in response to numerous complaints that the shop was selling synthetic marijuana, which was outlawed in Kentucky last year by the state legislature. Police said many of those complaints had come from parents and others who deal with children.

In January of last year, authorities in Scioto County raided the Dark Wings store in Wheelersburg and seized about 5,000 packets and containers of synthetic marijuana and bath salts, along with prescription pills and $34,000 cash.

Nichols pleaded guilty last month in Scioto County Common Pleas Court to charges of possession of drugs and money-laundering. She was sentenced to 48 months, but her sentence was probated on the condition she not commit any other crimes.

Synthetic marijuana, or “Spice,” is made by chemically treating dried leaves from common herbal plants. It’s sold in foil packets as “herbal incense” or “potpourri.” The packets are labeled “Not for Human Consumption,” put purchasers generally use the products as substitute marijuana.

Spice products are popular among young people; of the illicit drugs most used by high-school seniors, they are second only to marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

While there have been no scientific studies on the product’s effects on the human brain, Spice abusers have been taken to Poison Control Centers reporting symptoms that included rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart and in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks, according to the NIDA’s website.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.