I have included the paragraphs that mention Aida Electronics, 209 Florida Avenue NW.
Spice WorldSynthetic drugs have plagued D.C. for years. What took the city so long to mount a full response?
“You a day late and a dollar short, baby,” said a store clerk named Denise one day in July, when I showed up at Aida’s Electronics and asked if the store sold Spice. “If we still sold it, there’d be a line around the block.” Indeed, Aida’s, at 209 Florida Ave. NW, was once a high-profile seller, clearing $15,000 a week in wholesale alone, according to Denise. She said a middleman would take down an order, go to one of a couple of locations, in either Chinatown or Adams Morgan, and come back with the goods. “There’s lots of ways you can get it,” she said, mentioning the Internet. “But once you start selling it, and people see you’re doing good, you don’t have to look for a distributor. They come knock at the back door.”
During Lanier’s March 2013 initial push to tamp down on these drugs, synthetics were still classified as Schedule III. Investigators made their first visit to Aida’s on March 18, 2013, according to court records, and confiscated 184 packets and 16 jars of the drugs. Authorities told store owner William Early, a former MPD officer, that in the future they would arrest him or any of his employees for breaking the law. They made good on their promise to pay the store a follow-up visit, returning five times over the next 18 months, during which they made three more seizures, four undercover purchases and four arrests (including two of Early); and responded to a shooting.
Despite DEA lab tests that were positive for synthetic cannabinoids at the federal level, Early was never charged in any criminal court, local or federal. Because of an administrative oversight, the emergency regulation that made the substances illegal in the District expired on March 4, 2014, and were not re-instated until June 20, a critical three-month lapse that scuttled any chance for local prosecution. Instead, DCRA eventually designated Aida’s shop as a nuisance property under an April 2014 law that allowed officials to revoke a business’ license if it was caught selling synthetic cannabinoids. A police affidavit from Nov. 13, 2014, states that Early was undeterred by DCRA notices, arrests or police notifications. At one point he simply transferred the business license to a family member to avoid prosecution. It was not until July 15 that the D.C. Office of the Attorney General went to court and obtained a permanent injunction forcing Aida’s to shut down for a year.
“We done, baby,” Denise told me during the recent visit. “[Early] might be down in Jamaica by next week.” (A follow up call went to a voicemail message referring callers to another electronic repair serviceman.)