Michael Paul Wartman, 25
Police seeking probable cause to search a Piney Flats home got their opening on Thursday, as what appeared to be smoke billowing from the residence led to an alleged $27,000 stash of LSD.
Turns out the "smoke" was a fog machine being operated by the drug suspect. Detectives say that in addition to 2,700 hits of acid, they also located a three pound, pliable block of what may be raw LSD, along with a large amount of the what's suspected to be the synthetic drug Molly.
Michael Paul Wartman, 25, faces multiple charges in the incident. He's currently held in the Sullivan County Justice Center in Blountville.
According to Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Capt. Joseph Strickler, Wartman's arrest occurred after a Bluff City patrol officer spotted apparent smoke coming from a home. At approximately 8 p.m. the officer stopped at the residence, 5021 Aberlea Place, and spoke with the occupants.
It was reportedly learned a fog machine was the source of the apparent smoke, with the officer offering to come inside, open windows and help fan out the cloudy emissions. Police report the homeowner, who rents a section of the residence to Wartman, consented to the officer entering.
That's when numerous items of drug paraphernalia were allegedly spotted. Bluff City police then contacted the SCSO vice and narcotics division to alert them of the discovery.
Strickler says that prior to Thursday's incident, SCSO investigators already had their eyes on the home. Approximately three months ago the first tips of suspected narcotics activity came rolling in, with police seeking probable cause to conduct a search.
When vice detectives arrived they allegedly spotted marijuana and digital scales in Wartman's room. He denied consent to a search of his living area, with police then obtaining a warrant.
Upon execution of the warrant in the early hours of Friday morning, officers allegedly located 2,700 stamps of LSD. Police say the individual hits typically carry a street value of $10 a pop, bringing in the net haul at $27,000 worth of acid.
A white, pliable, three pound block of material was also allegedly located. Strickler says investigators suspect it's a raw form of LSD that's melted down and placed on stamps to produce hits.
In addition to the suspected acid, police seized a large, raw amount of what they believe to be the synthetic drug MDMA, or Molly, which carries similar effect as Ecstasy on its users. Multiple plastic capsules to package the materials into individual doses were also reportedly confiscated.
Confirmation of vice officers' suspicions on the synthetic drugs and pliable block await lab testing by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
A small amount of marijuana and multiple items of paraphernalia were also confiscated from Wartman's possession, along with a loaded 9 mm pistol. Police report the homeowner has cooperated with their investigation and has not been charged.
Strickler says the drugs, combined with entertainment equipment found in Wartman's possession, suggest he hosted or was intricately involved in raves where narcotics were ingested. Besides the fog machine, investigators also located DJ and lighting equipment.
"The lights, the sounds, the fog — it intensifies their high," said Strickler.
An investigation is continuing with additional charges pending. Wartman is currently charged with possession of schedule I drugs for resale, possession of schedule VI drugs, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of paraphernalia and maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are sold or stored.