Jim Carlson, owner of Last Place on Earth, arrested, says "The Nazis got me again"

Categories: Crime, Drugs
jim carlson last place.jpg
YouTube screengrab
Jim Carlson and a big sack of "incense."
By his own estimation, in 2011, Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth, made $6 million selling synthetic marijuana and stimulants. But those high times have come to a crashing end.

Last summer, Carlson's store was raided by feds. In December, he was charged with 54 violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act. Carlson could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted of those charges.

SEE ALSO:
-- Duluth's "Operation Crackdown": 30 arrested in connection with cocaine-for-EBT card scheme
-- Adam Budge, 18, charged with murder following friend's synthetic drug overdose


Then, last Friday, Carlson was arrested as part of an undercover state investigation into bath salt sales. Today, he was charged with four felonies that could land him behind bars for another year.

Carlson's bail has been set at $480,000. According to the Duluth News Tribune, "The prosecutor said that figure was arrived at because that's how much Carlson -- by his own admission -- makes in gross receipts for the sale of the synthetic drugs each month."

In court today, Carlson, 55, told a judge that his "attorney and everybody tells me what I'm selling is legal," but authorities disagree and have charged him with four counts of fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance. Also charged was Carlson's son, 34-year-old Joseph Gellerman.

As of early this afternoon, Carlson still hadn't posted bail. In court, he lamented the fact that the government has already seized $3 million of his money as part of the federal case for which he'll be going on trial this fall.

According to the Northland NewsCenter, on Friday, "police raided the controversial head shop... and arrested both Carlson and his son Joseph Gellerman for alleged sales of illegal controlled substances [specifically, bath salts] to undercover officers."

As Carlson was being hauled away, he was heard saying, "The Nazis got me again" and "It's legal," the NewsCenter reports.

The Last Place on Earth reportedly remained closed over the weekend while Carlson sat in jail.

The charges come less than a week after the Duluth News Tribune ran a somewhat curious story entitled "Impact of Last Place spreads throughout downtown Duluth" that seemed to blame almost all of downtown Duluth's crime problems on Carlson's store.

In court today, St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said he'll do everything possible to hold Carlson "accountable" for the problems allegedly created by the products he's made so much money selling.

"Our democracy entrusts some of us with the responsibility for your safety," Rubin said. "The young men and women who have been buying and using synthetic drugs are in danger. They are hurting themselves; they are hurting others. Our local emergency rooms cannot keep up. The safety of those who have been buying and using -- and the safety of our community -- are at stake. We will do everything under the law to enforce accountability on those responsible."


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15 comments
fairesnewman
fairesnewman

When we people come to an understanding Jim has been there 30 plus years, Downtown Duluth has been bad since the mass migrate to Minnesota after welfare reform, long before synthetic drug sales. Minnesota has a higher total of alcohol related deaths in the past five years total 637. More than 181 children were killed due to drivers who were drunk. But do we prosecute the liquor stores? No!

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana, as I think it's less harmful overall than alcohol; never mind all the other drugs people use.  Keeping marijuana illegal has been a boon to organized crime, and it has created a lucrative and dangerous traffic in artificial stuff.   But the fact remains, it's illegal to sell the stuff.

The bath salts and various synthetic marijuana substitutes seem to be risky.  I don't take the "Reefer Madness" media hype at face value necessarily, but it seems reasonable to believe that an artificial formulation of a natural substance would entail a lot more risks than the straight-up natural version.  See Aspartame or Saccharine as opposed to Sugar.

The Authorities haven't made it a secret that they're going to bust anybody who sells the Bath Salts or the Imitation marijuana.  They haven't made it a secret that they're going to bust this guy Carlson if he spits on the sidewalk.  So he should probably not keep doing this if he doesn't want to get arrested.

Philip Zempel
Philip Zempel

to bad you all do live in CO, you wouldn't have to sell synthetic,

Melvin Lipshit
Melvin Lipshit

A very misleading blog that tries to implicate Jim and LPOE with the 30 people arrested for crack sales that were taking EBT Cards. If you go there make sure your firewall is on and that your virus protection is up-to-date. Truth is the crack dealers were down to taking ebt cards because of lost sales. One of the known affects of smoking Synthetic Marijuana is you lose the desire to use cocaine, crack or opiates.

Melvin Lipshit
Melvin Lipshit

One of the known affects of smoking Synthetic Marijuana is you lose the desire to use cocaine or crack.

Melvin Lipshit
Melvin Lipshit

Truth is the crack dealers were down to taking ebt cards because of lost sales.

David Dodds
David Dodds

this is trash he should be deposed of

Melvin Lipshit
Melvin Lipshit

A very misleading blog that tries to implicate Jim and LPOE with the 30 people arrested for crack sales that were taking EBT Cards. If you go there make sure your firewall is on and that your virus protection is up-to-date.

Mark Whalen
Mark Whalen

aint no ball and chain keepin ya here!!

Jason Kokal
Jason Kokal

For those of you who don't live up here, this is a very good thing. You have no idea how shady downtown has been.

fullermalarkey
fullermalarkey

@swmnguy

"So he should probably not keep doing this if he doesn't want to get arrested."

I thought we had protections from a tyrannical government that uses and abuses force instead of the due process of law to get compliance. The simple fact neither the feds nor the state have been able to shut this guy down indicates we're talking about some gray area.  I contend we are protected from governmental harassment, and it sets bad precedent to give in to it. 

swee2th
swee2th

@Melvin Lipshit Hey, way to repost the same thing slightly reworded three times.

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@Jason Kokal Yes, and it was all the LPOE fault.. Try looking around, nothing but non profits line Superior street and adjacent areas. Heavy influx of folks from Chicago and Milwaukee looking to ride the MN gravy train. Central Hillside looks like a ghetto (take your radio and battery in at night). Sorry Jason, Duluth is racing to be a mini Detroit. Check the census records, you're now at 1/2 of the population that was there in the 70's

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@fullermalarkey I agree with you in principle.  The government is now going after him for violations of the incredibly complicated court orders he's subject to, rather than the substance of why they have it in for him in the first place.  Like putting Al Capone in prison for tax evasion, rather than for being the #1 gangster in American folklore.  

As with many of the people who end up making a stand, this guy Carlson seems morally ambiguous to me.  That doesn't excuse the fact that the local government has decided to run him out of town, rule of law or no.

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