Arroyo Grande shop owner arrested in sting operation

December 21, 2011

Ghanem Ayass

Deputies arrested an Arroyo Grande smoke shop owner after he allegedly sold alcohol and drug paraphernalia to a San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s department decoy during a sting operation on Friday.

Ghanem Ayass, 52, the owner of Mr. Smokes on Halcyon Road, allegedly sold a marijuana pipe and alcohol to a 19-year-old decoy even though his store’s permits do not include a liquor license.

Deputies also discovered pipes used to smoke methamphetamine, illegal throwing star weapons and a collection of brass knuckles.

Ayass was charged with weapon, narcotics, ABC and probation violations.



  1. MaryMalone says:

    The smoke shop that was raided used to be a great place for unusual types of things that would show up on the shelves. It is opposite Tanner Jack’s, next to the little pizza place.

    Before the original owner sold it (probably 5 or more years ago), for instance, they used to carry a really good Australian port, “Old Codger.” I’ve never seen it carried anywhere else. I’ve called around to other hooch distributors–no luck. This is typical of the unique, quality things they carried.

    I used to stop in there probably once every two weeks or so to get something for my husband. After ownership changed, slowly the stock changed.

    When it changed hands, I went in there twice and then stopped. The salesman/owner was so aggressive with his sales technique. It was like he was stalking me in the store. I couldn’t even think about what I was looking at because of the constant chatter of him trying to sell me something else.

    Slowly, as the previous owner’s stock was sold, the new owner started carrying tacky little crap…incense and pretty raunchy double-entendre post-cards, for instance. I’m certainly no prude, but the post-cards were just out of place in what was once a quality business.

    And the place got really dirty.

    As I said, I have not been there in years, but I am both not surprised and not happy to read of the kind of stock he is carrying now. Throwing stars? Meth crack pipes?

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
  2. Russ J says:

    The creep factor is overwhelming. This guy could be convicted by his looks. Don’t let your little boy help him find his lost puppy.

    (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
  3. mkaney says:

    The guy is clearly seedy, but however you look at it these are non crimes with no victims. (direct victims, I’m not going to argue about indirect victims because we could go on all day about that)

    (-6) 18 Total Votes - 6 up - 12 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Mkaney, selling alcohol to a minor is a crime, and there are victims associated with that crime.

      I am not aware of the laws regarding age of purchaser and throwing stars, meth pipes, etc., but if he illegally sold to a minor, there certainly could be victims involved with those types of purchases, as well.

      (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
      • mkaney says:

        Obviously it is against the law, whether it is a “crime” or not is something else altogether,.

        (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  4. oto says:

    Good cop get donut!

    Now, leaving aside the absence of the liquor license, what is the difference between the “illegal” parphenalia and weaponry and the crap you see in the stores on Grand Ave.. Isn’t there a drug paraphenalia store near the Post Office?

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      Not sure but perhaps you have to be 21 to buy paraphernalia?? I know that there’s an age requirement but I thought it was 18, but I must be wrong.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
      • Cindy says:

        I also thought that a person has to be 18 to buy a water pipe. It seems to be the shops usually have signs that say you must be 18 to purchase the dry and water pipes. I’m very confused about the meth pipe because don’t people smoke little pieces of hash in little pipes with a small hole?

        I can’t figure out what this honorary merchant (sarcasm) thought he was doing selling alcohol? Who would even consider purchasing it from him since he must have to keep it under the counter? Obviously only a minor would purchase it from him if they know he is an illegal source. That guy must have an ongoing illegal side line selling alcohol to minors! What a jerk, I guess if he thinks he can get away with that, the shurikan’s are nothing!

        (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
        • JackR says:

          Someone commented on the Trib site that his liquor license expired in 2010.

          The part about selling brass knuckles and throwing stars is troubling since it’s less than a mile from Mesa Middle School, Lopez High, and Mesa View Community School (where the gang bangers go after they are expelled from Lucia Mar or another district).

          The Sub in SLO checks IDs to go into the “pipe room” (must be 18) and will throw you out if you mention you’re going to use it for an illegal drug. Maybe this store was advertising them as pot pipes which is why he was arrested for the pipe.

          (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down

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