3 arrested at variety store where deputies found pot, pills, guns and $13,000

The owners and an employee of a Lincolnton variety store were arrested Monday after deputies said they ran an underground drug operation at the store, according to the Lincolnton County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives seized nearly a pound and a half of marijuana, more than 70 grams of oxycodone pills, handguns and more than $13,000 in cash from the J&M Discount Variety Store at 3485 East Highway 27. A search warrant into the business was executed after an ongoing investigation in which detectives discovered the owners and an employee were selling drugs at the store during normal business hours.

Detectives arrested owners Mandi Smith, 39, and Askari Johnson, 37. Each faces charges of trafficking opium along with other drug-related offenses. Employee Kenin Anzalone, 33, faces charges of conspiracy and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS