'Last Place on Earth' Owner Arrested

Posted at: 03/29/2013 3:22 PM
Updated at: 03/29/2013 7:03 PM

The owner of Duluth's "Last Place on Earth" store and his son were arrested Friday as part of an investigation into bath salt sales.

The arrests of Jim Carlson, 55, and Joseph Gellerman, 34, are the latest development in a years-long dispute over the sale of synthetic drugs at the downtown store.  Carlson has insisted that the products he sells do not contain banned chemicals.

Duluth Police Officers and members of the Lake Superior Drug & Violent Crime Task Force executed a search warrant at the store Friday afternoon and took several items, including suspected controlled substances, cash, documents, and a firearm.

Carlson and Gellerman were arrested to face possible charges of fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance.  Formal charges are expected next week.

Friday's raid was the third in the last year and a half, but the first specifically involving bath salts. Duluth Police executed a search warrant in September 2011 and then federal authorities executed another warrant in July 2012 as part of a nationwide crackdown.

"Most people realize they are in hot water, and they don't want anything to do with this anymore, but it hasn't happened in this case," said Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.  "We will continue to look at other legal actions to stop this."

Neighboring businesses have long complained about the behavior of the store's clientele.  In January, a judge deemed the store a nuisance and ordered Carlson to pay for two police officers to be on duty outside the store when it is open.  Carlson's appeal of that decision remains pending.

Carlson, Gellerman, and two others were indicted by a federal grand jury on 54 alleged crimes last year.  The trial is set for September.