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Smoke shop owner faces felonies after ‘unknown drug substance’ sent 5 to hospital

The owner of a smoke shop is in custody after law enforcement officers and emergency response personnel encountered an “unknown drug substance” at the Pickens County business, sending five to the hospital, authorities said.

While executing a search warrant, a detective was immediately taken to the hospital after he came in contact with the substance, found Friday during a morning search of A-1 Smoke Shop in Jasper, officials said in a Facebook post on the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office’s page. 

A detective was immediately taken to the hospital after he came in contact with an unknown substance during a search of a smoke shop in Jasper. (Photo: Pickens County Sheriff’s Office)

Another detective, a Pickens County drug task force agent and two EMS personnel were also treated after they came in contact with the substance, officials said. 

The release said all five of the public safety personnel sent to the hospital have recovered and been released. The substance collected was sent to the GBI Crime Lab’s forensics division for further testing.

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Atulkumar Jayan Patel was arrested and faces charges of manufacturing, distributing, dispensing or possessing controlled substances and distributing Nitrous Oxide, the sheriff’s office said in a subsequent news release.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office said in a news release it obtained four additional warrants for possession, distribution or manufacturing of a controlled substance; reproduction of recorded material; racketeering; and drug related objects.

Patel remains in the Pickens County Adult Detention Center without bond, the release said. He also had a hold placed from Gilmer County because of alleged counterfeit currency charges. 

An investigation is ongoing. 

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