Tobacco shop owners arrested in synthetic drug investigation

The owners of a tobacco shop and a Soldotna man are facing charges related to an investigation into the synthetic drug known as spice.

The Peninsula Clarion reports Philip and Loren Kneeland were arraigned Thursday before Magistrate Jennifer Wells at the Kenai Courthouse. Temporary defense lawyer Eric Derleth entered not-guilty pleas for the couple.

Police arrested 27-year-old William Dooley in connection with the case. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

An investigation into Tobacco Distress by the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit’s local office found 146 packets containing illegal components. Search warrants served Wednesday led to the seizure of thousands of suspected spice packets, a shotgun and six pistols.

If each of the Kneelands posts a $5,000 bond, they are expected to appear in court again on Jan. 20.