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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 14, 2019 9:23 am

Verbatim: Excise officers execute search warrant for counterfeit vaping pods

The Journal Gazette

Indiana Excise Police issued this news release today:

CEDAR LAKE, Ind. (Oct. 14, 2019) – Indiana State Excise Police (ISEP) officers executed a search warrant Friday evening at a Cedar Lake retailer that resulted in the confiscation of nine boxes of counterfeit Juul pods and Juul starter kits.

Excise Officers executed the search warrant for the retail location of Zip Food Store located at 7208 W. 132nd Avenue in Lake County. The location was selling several different Juul pod flavors, Juul pod devices and starter kits. Investigators from JUUL confirmed to ISEP the Mango flavored product being sold at this location is counterfeit. ISEP also confiscated numerous invoices from the location and are working to determine where the counterfeit pods are coming from.

The search warrant is the result of a two month-long investigation that began with a citizen complaint alleging that upon opening a purchased product it was apparent that it was counterfeit because “the package, pods and liquid contained inside were all obviously different than the Juul Brand product.”

“Recently, vaping-related illnesses are on the rise nationwide.  The hazards associated with counterfeit vaping products are a serious public health and safety matter. The Indiana State Excise Police will work to help get these counterfeit products off of the streets,” said Indiana State Excise Police Superintendent Matt Strittmatter. “By law, the mission of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission is to protect the health of Hoosiers by regulating alcohol and tobacco products, including those used for vaping.”

The business was cited administratively against the tobacco sales certificate for public nuisance, failing to maintain invoices and for obtaining e-liquid from an unauthorized source.

The investigation will be turned over to the Lake County Prosecutor’s office for review. Additionally, ISEP has received complaints and is currently investigating additional locations for selling counterfeit vaping juice.

As the enforcement division of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, the primary mission of the ISEP is to promote public safety by enforcing Indiana’s alcoholic beverage code. Indiana Code 7.1-7 gives the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission and the Indiana State Excise Police the authority to regulate and enforce vapor pens and e-liquid.

To report potential counterfeit e-liquid products, please contact the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission at 317-232-2452 or by filing a complaint at https://www.in.gov/atc/2411.htm.