Multi-agency vape and marijuana crackdown leads to arrests in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Thirteen law enforcement agencies came together for “Operation Vapor Trail” to keep controlled substances, vapes, and tobacco products away from the public. This comes about a month after the Jacksonville City Council passed restrictions on the locations of vape shops.

Charlene Zorn’s son, Solomon Winn, used to go to New Hanover High School in Wilmington. Now, he isn’t with her anymore because she says he lost his life to vaping at the age of 15.

Zorn describes how it has been for her family in two words: “Living hell.”

After being introduced to vaping by his friends, Zorn says her son quickly developed health complications with fluid surrounding his heart and lungs. Winn passed away about 3 to 4 months after his diagnosis.

“He should have been getting ready to finish his sophomore year and he should be looking at football camps. We should not be thinking about the first anniversary of our son’s death,” Zorn added.

To prevent these situations, 13 law enforcement agencies across the East including police departments, sheriff’s offices from multiple counties, the NCIS, and the DEA all came together to crack down vape stores.

“The focus of this investigation was originally the vapes. Marijuana has been discovered at some of these shops as well, and we are targeting distributors as our main target,” Sheriff Chris Thomas from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office explained.

Under the name “Operation Vapor Trail,” the law enforcement agencies seized more than 34,000 grams of Schedule I substances, and about 250 pounds of marijuana products, totaling more than $260,000 in about two weeks.

People who work at the stores that were busted say the stores suffered serious losses from the confiscations.

Employee Segullah Douell feels it is unfair to face four felony charges, including manufacturing charges.

“It’s insane they can just get a warrant and come and arrest whoever’s working and charge them like we’re criminals. We’re just doing our job. We just work here,” Douell said.

Law enforcement agencies are now asking state lawmakers to mandate regulations to govern the sales of vaping and marijuana products.