Since July 1, Virginia's had a new law restricting the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine — both of which are used in the illegal production of methamphetamines.
So Fairfax County police detectives from the Organized Crime and Narcotics Division of the Criminal Investigation Bureau are making a concerted effort to make sure the law is followed. And as a result, they've charged the owner and a clerk of the Chantilly Cash & Carry with selling methamphetamine precursors, in violation of the new law. The owner is Chi Kim, 62, of 5326 Sammie Kay Lane in Centreville, and the clerk is Sun J. Lim, 45, of 14281 Glade Spring Drive in Centreville's Centre Ridge community.
THE GOAL is to minimize the potential for methamphetamine abuse and prevent illegal methamphetamine labs from taking a foothold in the county. According to the new law, sales of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine must be limited to no more than 3.6 grams total of either substance daily per customer.
And since Sept. 30, both of them must be kept behind retail store counters or in a locked case away from the general public’s access. Customers are required to present photo identification and sign a log in order to purchase them.
Since July 27, local detectives have tried to buy excess amounts of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine at 21 different businesses in the county. Besides Chantilly Cash & Carry, they also charged a clerk at the Sunoco A-Plus Gas Station at 4647 West Ox Road in Fairfax with illegally selling ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.
In an Oct. 9 affidavit for a warrant to search for possible evidence at Chantilly Cash & Carry, an undercover detective explained the details of the case against the owner and clerk there. He wrote that he visited the store at 13941 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway in Chantilly during a July 27 compliance check involving the two substances from which methamphetamine is made.
Entering Chantilly Cash & Carry as part of the police department's Special Investigations Narcotics Unit, he wrote that he "observed the product Mini Ephedrine sitting out on the counter. Mini Ephedrine contains 25 milligrams of ephedrine per pill. [He also] observed a case of the product behind the counter."
The detective then approached an Asian female clerk — later reportedly identified as Lim — and asked to purchase a case of Mini Ephedrine. "The clerk picked up a case of Mini Ephedrine and asked an older Asian female if she could sell it to [me]," he wrote. "[She] told the clerk yes."
According to the detective, the clerk then allegedly sold the whole case to him for $113.27. And the total amount of ephedrine in a case of Mini Ephedrine is approximately 8 grams.
He wrote that he discussed future buys from the business, and Lim advised him that Chantilly Cash & Carry receives a shipment every Wednesday. And, he added, "She also advised [me] that she would sell more of the product to [me]."
THE DETECTIVE returned to that store Aug. 2. to make a second purchase of Mini Ephedrine. He wrote that Lim was working behind the counter, recognized him from before and "immediately brought a case of Mini Ephedrine to the counter. On this occasion, the clerk [reportedly] sold the Mini Ephedrine to [me] for $133."
He returned Aug. 10 to make a third purchase but, this time, he wrote, he asked for two cases of Mini Ephedrine. Again, he wrote, the clerk asked permission from the older female to sell him the two cases, and it was granted. Then, wrote the detective, "The clerk sold [me] two cases of Mini Ephedrine for $226.55."
On Sept. 21, he went back to Chantilly Cash & Carry and spoke with the same clerk, Lim. He wrote that he told her he was using the pills he'd bought from her store to make drugs — specifically, meth. "The clerk laughed, and we talked about future purchases," wrote the detective. [I] did not purchase any Mini Ephedrine on this date."
He returned again on Sept. 27 to make a fourth Mini Ephedrine buy, encountered the same clerk and asked her for three cases. He wrote that she allegedly brought them to him and sold them for $502.74.
The detective went back Oct. 5 for a fifth and final purchase of Mini Ephedrine. But before he did, another undercover officer also visited the business and spoke with the owner — later reportedly identified as Kim.
"The older Asian male [allegedly] advised [the officer] that he would sell the Mini Ephedrine to him for a discount," wrote the detective. "[He] also advised [the officer] the product was controlled."
The officer then told Kim that his partner would come by later to buy it at the discounted rate. So when the detective entered Chantilly Cash & Carry on Oct. 5, he approached the owner and identified himself as the person there to purchase the Mini Ephedrine at a discount. Then, wrote the detective, "The older Asian male [allegedly] sold [me] one case of Mini Ephedrine and two cases of Ephedrine Plus for $239.40."
In his affidavit, the detective wrote that he wanted to search the premises in hopes of finding, among other things, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine products, records and documents related to their sale, money from their sale and customer and supplier lists.
Police executed the warrant Oct. 9 and seized: Eleven bottles of Nyquil, five bottles of Dayquil, 89 packets of Ephedrine Plus, 23 Mini Ephedrine gel caps, four ephedrine gel caps, 56 more Mini Ephedrine and various records and documents from the order catalog, the office and behind the counter.
Then last Tuesday, Oct. 31, police served both Kim and Lim with summonses, charging each with one count of illegally selling the precursors of methamphetamine.