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Law-enforcement Agents Seize Records, Computers And Smoking Accessories.

An undisclosed amount of merchandise, financial records and four computers
were taken from a local hemp store and the owner's Iowa City home during a
search by approximately 40 officers from the Drug Enforcement Agency Sunday.

Hemp Cat owner Adam Engelby said the DEA served him with two search
warrants early Sunday, one for his home and another for his business, which
is located at 114 1/2 E. College St.

Engelby said law-enforcement agents took two computers from his home and
two from the Hemp Cat store, financial records from both locations and
smoking accessories from the store during the raids. The searches lasted
about three hours each, he said. Approximately 10 officers searched his
home while 30 others searched his business simultaneously, he said.

"They were courteous and polite, very professional," Engelby said. "There
were a million things running through my mind. I was in a state of shock
more than anything."

The Hemp Cat stopped business for the day after Sunday's raid and closed
its doors four hours early Monday evening.

"I don't plan to sell any of the stuff that was seized in the future,"
Engelby said, refusing to elaborate on the smoking accessories the DEA

He plans to keep the store open and is optimistic it will survive without
the seized merchandise.

Engelby has hired an attorney and the "wheels are in motion," he said.
Engelby said he was never arrested during the raids and has not been
charged with anything relating to Sunday's search.

DEA spokesman Al Overbough said he could not confirm or deny the raid on
the Hemp Cat.

However, Des Moines police Lt. Clarence Jobe confirmed that the DEA
searched the store Sunday and that two Des Moines police officers were on
the task force. Jobe said he could not comment on the case because it is
under federal jurisdiction.

Despite his initial shock, Engelby said the search was not a complete surprise.

"I guess, in the back of your mind, you always have an idea something like
that could happen when you're selling questionable smoking accessories," he

Hemp Cat employee Paula Balkenende said that, to the best of her knowledge,
all the merchandise was legal. Iowa City police officers made it a habit to
visit the store once a month, chat with customers, and visit the back room,
where smoking accessories were displayed, she said.

Balkenende said she watched as plain-clothes DEA officers collected boxes
of evidence Sunday.

"It just truly made me sick, and I thought how unfair it was to (Engelby)
and the employees because we haven't done anything wrong," she said. "I
don't think the Hemp Cat's going to do the business it's done now that it's
been harassed repeatedly."

Newshawk: Bob Dobbs
Pubdate: Tue, 13 Feb 2001
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA)
Copyright: 2001 The Daily Iowan
Contact: daily-iowan@uiowa.edu
Address: Attn: Viewpoints Editor, 201N Communications Center, Iowa City IA
Page and Section: 2 A, Metro
Website: Daily Iowan - Online Edition
Author: Chao Xiong, Peter Rugg
Bookmark: Overload Warning (Hemp)
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