Law enforcement shut down illegal drug operation in St Johnsbury

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Liquor and Lotteries (DLL), in conjunction with the Caledonia County State’s Attorney’s Office, Saint Johnsbury Police Department, Vermont Department of Probation and Parole Corrections and the Bureau of Firearms and Explosives (ATF), executed a search warrant which led to the seizure of drugs, records, cash and other evidence describing illegal drug sales.

During a six-month investigation, Pat Ross, a DLL investigator, verified complaints associated with the Best Buds Smoke Shop in St. Johnsbury, which currently holds a tobacco license with a tobacco substitute endorsement. These complaints included allegations of illegal drug sales to minors and near a school.

On September 23, 2022, DLL investigators conducted a regulatory inspection of Best Buds Smoke Shop. Based on information obtained during the investigation and regulatory inspection, Detective Ross applied for a search warrant from the Caledonia County Criminal Court. Execution of the search warrant led to the seizure of felony amounts of what the Department suspects were magic mushrooms, pre-packaged marijuana, hash/hash oils, cannabis edibles, evidence of unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and approximately $3,000 in alleged illegal cash proceeds.

Criminal charges were laid in Caledonia County Criminal Court and Barry J. McKee, owner of Best Buds Smoke Shop, was charged with 18 VSA 4235(b) Possession of Hallucinogenic Drugs; 18 VSA 4235(c) Sale or distribution of hallucinogenic drugs; 18 VSA 4237 Sale or distribution to minors; sell on school grounds; 18 VSA 4230 Possession and sale of cannabis; and 13 VSA 4017 Persons prohibited from possessing firearms; conviction for a violent crime.

McKee was released with a citation and is scheduled to appear in Caledonia County Criminal Court on October 24, 2022.

About the Department of Liquor and Lotteries

The Liquor and Lotteries Department provides a regulatory framework for licensing, compliance, enforcement and education for the responsible sale and consumption of alcohol, tobacco and amusement gaming, ensuring public safety and contributing 100% of profits to Vermont communities through general and educational funds.

St. Johnsbury, VT – October 6, 2022 – Vermont Liquor and Lotteries Department

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