LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Florida Lottery Commission has suspended lotto ticket sales at five area convenience stores that were raided for selling illegal synthetic marijuana in October.
The lotto commission confirms to WINK News, the sales were suspended within the last two weeks, and will last for at least 30 days.
Officials say the synthetic drug sales are a growing problem across the state, and the lottery has suspended sales at stores from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Lee County.
Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott says, "try to hit these bad guys and gals where it counts really most, in their pockets. And certainly selling lottery tickets is a big source of revenue for these places. Hopefully it sends the message to other would-be dealers that look- this isn't worth it. Not only do we run the risk of an arrest and confiscation, but we also run the risk obviously now of our ability to sell lottery tickets"
He adds, "It's appropriate. It's not fair to the businesses that are doing business properly and legally that are selling lottery tickets- for these renegade shops to be allowed to do that."
Doug Pitts, Director of Security for the Florida Lottery Commission, says they have the ability to suspend sales where alledged criminal activity has taken place. He says those sales can be terminated completely if the business owner is found guilty or pleads guilty to the felony charge in court.
He says for the business, there's no getting around the suspension. "We'll pick up all the tickets, all the scratch off tickets that they're selling. Their terminal is basically shut down. Once we cut off communication with it, it won't operate. They can't sell tickets and they can't validate tickets," he says. "Based on state statute, the Florida Lottery can't contract with anyone who's been found guilty or plead guilty to a felony within the last 10 years."
Pitts says the sale of synthetic marijuana, a dangerous drug that targets kids, goes against everything they stand for. "Our mission and all of our profits- go to support education in Florida. The producers and sellers of these products are targeting adolescents. That's in direct conflict with our mission."
Those locations impacted include:
Sunoco at 3006 Palm Beach Boulevard
Shell Station at 18080 S. Tamiami Trail
San Carlos Grocery at 18011 S. Tamiami Trail
Marathon at 1490 Lee Boulevard
Sunoco at 8671 Littleton Road