Berkley Supermarket owner speaks out on 220 pounds of marijuana bust at his store

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Posted at 9:31 PM, Jun 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 17:49:34-04

NORFOLK, Va.— Two men are still behind bars after Norfolk police seized over 220 pounds of marijuana from a package delivered to the Berkley Supermarket June 1.

This wasn't your ordinary delivery. The marijuana had a street value of $1 million. The court documents that News 3 obtained reveal that the two suspects involved are from New York and they went into the store asking about the package, minutes after it was delivered.

When Mike Palmer, the owner of Berkley Supermarket opened his store nine months ago, he never imagined he would have a problem this big on his hands.

"In terms of people knowing about the store, the first thing that comes to mind is the situation with the weed," said Palmer.

Lingering conversations that he hopes to erase. What was supposed to be a regular routine delivery was certainly not the case. A truck delivered a large package that was the size of a U-haul box.

"When the initial package came I was there, then I had to go. When the cops came I wasn't there, but my staff called me over told me what happened and by the time I got there the cops were already gone," said Palmer.

News 3 reporter Kelsey Jones sat down with Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney who believes there's a need for a regulated retail cannabis market in Virginia because of situations like this.

Ramin Fatehi, Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney said, "The reason that we need the regulated market is that people are allowed to use marijuana, people are allowed to grow marijuana theoretically, but there's no market for them to buy marijuana. What that means is there going to be a black market. There's going to be people that bring marijuana into Virginia and selling it illegally."

"We're now tracking all of our deliveries that is coming in. In terms of what is expected my receiving manager would know what to expect if there's a package that comes in that wasn't scheduled, that package will now be open before the delivery driver leaves," said Palmer.

Palmer tells us he doesn't know why the box had his address on it, but he has a message for the community.

"Were all about doing good for the community which is something that we've done over the years and it's something that will continue. We're not going to let this stop us," said Palmer.

As a result of the investigation, 32-year-old Lichuang Dai and 32-year-old Jianfeng Ma have been charged with possession with intent to sell marijuana and transporting controlled substances into the Commonwealth.

Norfolk Police did tell News 3 that the two suspects involved are not affiliated with Berkley Supermarket or any of its employees.

While Dai's attorney declined to comment, Ma's attorney said a bond hearing would be scheduled for June 14 in Norfolk General Court. That hearing has since been pushed back to June 16.