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Convenience store raids targeted owners for corrupt business influence

ELKHART, Ind. -- New details have been released about the raids at convenience stores in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties on Monday.


According to the Elkhart County Prosecutor, a total of 16 search warrants were executed on Monday on businesses owned by Gurcharn "John" Singh and Jaswinder "Jasmine" Kaur, both of Granger, for allegedly engaging in corrupt business influence, dealing in a synthetic drug or lookalike substance and money laundering.


Long-term investigations by multiple local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies targeted the pair for allegedly dealing in synthetic drugs or a lookalike substance, in both Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.


A synthetic drug is considered a substance with certain specific chemical compounds. Currently 100 are illegal. The products are marketed as incense and are often labeled as not fit for human consumption. Yet, the products are often purchased and used to obtain a "marijuana-like "high.


The prosecutor's office says although the substances are illegal, because they are often available to purchase at local businesses, that they are perceived as safe.


In reality, according to the prosecutor's office, there have been documented side effects such as organ damage, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, aggressive and/or violent behavior. In some instances, people have taken their own lives or the lives of others under the influence of these synthetic drugs.


In July 2013, police received tips synthetic drugs were being sold at the Burger Dairy Store on West Franklin Street, the Marathon on West Franklin Street, the Sunnyside Food Mart on South Benham and the Marathon on East Bristol Street, all in Elkhart.


At the time, after purchasing synthetic drugs, law enforcement warned representatives of the businesses that it was illegal to sell the items and they must stop.


On multiple occasions, synthetic drugs were purchased at each of these stores even after they were warned not to.


Prosecutors say all of the stations and convenience stores are owned by corporations created by either Gurcharn or Jaswinder or both of them together.


On several occasions either Gurcharn or Jaswinder were present or personally sold the synthetic drugs, according to the prosecutor.


During the raid Monday, eleven people were arrested.


The following people were arrested in Elkhart County:



  • Gurcharn "John" Singh, 43, of Granger - Corrupt business influence (racketeering), a Class C felony; dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class C felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Jaswinder "Jasmine" Kaur, 37, of Granger - Corrupt business influence (racketeering), a Class C felony; dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class C felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Peter Rose Fernandes, 48, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Maranda Marie Haynes, 41, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Muhammad Mobeen Khan, 28, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony

  • Amandeep Singh, 21, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Gurpreet Singh, 22, of Elkhart - Corrupt business influence (racketeering), a Class C felony; dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class C felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Gurpreet Singh, 36, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony

  • Sarabjit Singh Gujjar, 23, of Elkhart -Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony

  • Sukhjinder Singh, 22, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony

  • Melissa L. St. George, 37, of Elkhart - Dealing in a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance, a Class D felony; and money laundering, a Class D felony


The prosecutor's office is also seeking forfeiture of property and assets owned by Gurcharn and/or Jaswinder including:



  • The Phillips 66 Gas Station and Burger Dairy Store at 1403 & 1409 Franklin Street, in Elkhart

  • The Marathon Gas Station and convenience store at 1589 West Franklin Street, in Elkhart

  • The Sunnyside Food Mart/Benham Food Mart at 1502 South Benham, in Elkhart

  • The Marathon Gas Station and convenience store at 1850 East Bristol Street, in Elkhart


Law enforcement officers have already seized:



  • Ten bank accounts;

  • At least two vehicles;

  • The Phillips 66 Gas Station and Burger Dairy Store on Franklin Street, in Elkhart, and all assets therein;

  • The Marathon Gas Station and convenience store on Franklin Street, in Elkhart, and all assets therein;

  • The Sunnyside Food Mart/Benham Food Mart on South Benham, in Elkhart, and all assets therein;

  • The Marathon Gas Station and convenience store on East Bristol Street, in Elkhart, and all assets therein;

  •  More than $57,000.00 in US currency;

  • More than 1400 packets of synthetic drugs;

  • Numerous documents related to property ownership and business control; and

  • At least two guns


In St. Joseph County, nine people were arrested and $30,000 in cash was seized.


Tarlok Singh, 65, was charged in St. Joseph County on one count of dealing in a synthetic drug and one count of possession of a synthetic drug weighing more than 2 grams with intent to deliver.


Prosecutors said they served a search warrant at Rick's Gas Station in Mishawaka and found 256 packets of suspected synthetic marijuana.


Charges are expected to be released within the next 48 hours.


Investigators said the investigation took so long because they wanted to make a case for corrupt business influence (racketeering) instead of just misdemeanors.


The stores will remain closed until forfeiture hearings.

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