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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Alleged ‘spice’ sales lead to arrest of Pelham storeowner

PELHAM – The Pelham store owner arrested Friday and charged with felony drug sales for selling packages of the synthetic marijuana product “Spice” allegedly told police he was aware of the rash of overdoses from the product but continued to sell it anyway, police said Saturday.

Christopher Matte, 43, of Hudson, had been selling Spice by the package for $19.99 each out of his market, Ace Discount Cigarettes at 30 Bridge St., for several months, according to police. They said that in addition to the substance, roughly $7,000 in cash was recovered. ...

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PELHAM – The Pelham store owner arrested Friday and charged with felony drug sales for selling packages of the synthetic marijuana product “Spice” allegedly told police he was aware of the rash of overdoses from the product but continued to sell it anyway, police said Saturday.

Christopher Matte, 43, of Hudson, had been selling Spice by the package for $19.99 each out of his market, Ace Discount Cigarettes at 30 Bridge St., for several months, according to police. They said that in addition to the substance, roughly $7,000 in cash was recovered.

Undercover agents had purchased the product several times during the six-month investigation by Pelham and State Police that ended Saturday with Matte’s arrest. Agents charged Matte with two counts of sale of drugs, both felonies, when they executed search warrants at the store and at another location they didn’t identify, police said.

Police added that they “expedited” the Matte case because of the recent rash of Spice overdoses that prompted Gov. Maggie Hassan to declare a state of emergency last week.

Matte was released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail after his arrest, police said. He is scheduled to appear in Salem district court on Sept. 22. Police said they expect to make further arrests “in regards to other employees” of Matte’s store, whom they also suspect of selling the substance.

Detectives learned during the investigation that the packages of the substance were not in view of the public, and customers needed to use code names to make the purchases, police said. They said an undercover officer made several “controlled buys” of the substance directly from Matte during the investigation, purchasing several different brands of the product that were later sent to the state lab for analysis.

Police said that Pelham detectives asked Matte several months ago to stop selling the substance, citing the number of overdoses and the “issues that users were having after ingesting the product,” police said in a statement.

“He was made aware of how our local youths were smoking this product and what the side effects of this drug were,” police said.

When Matte’s store was burglarized in October 2013, police said, he reported to police that nothing was taken, but police later learned that Matte’s entire supply of synthetic marijuana had been stolen.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).