Teenager goes undercover to fight youth vaping epidemic in Davie

Detectives work with teen to arrest man accused of selling nicotine to kids

Rhiannon Griffith-Bowman smokes an e-Cigarette. Davie Police Department detectives recently took an interest in a man who was selling nicotine to minors. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DAVIE, Fla. – The Davie Police Department detectives recently hired a teenager to go undercover. They were working in a case that is linked to what public health experts say is one of the most pernicious public health challenges of our times.

The special investigations unit detectives asked a teenager, who they consider to be a confidential informant, to pretend to be a customer at the Food Stop on Griffin Road. They gave him $40 of "investigative funds" to purchase nicotine juice/vape cartridges.

The teenager bought a bottle of water, a pack of gum and Ceasar Blue Razz Iced Premium e-Juice Pods, which contain about 5% nicotine. The teenager later told officers Mohammed Indorewala, of Pembroke Pines, sold it to him without asking him for identification, police said. 

"Mohammad was the only employee working and was positively identified by the CI (confidential informant) as the person who sold the nicotine cartridges," a police officer wrote in the arrest report. 

Officers arrested Indorewala, 52, on Wednesday afternoon accusing him of selling nicotine "vape" cartridges to teenagers, police said. Detectives conducted the investigation after getting complaints for someone in the neighborhood.

Davie Police Department officers arrested Mohammed Indorewala on Wednesday.

The unidentified tipster who alerted detectives about Indorewala is not the only one concerned about the neighborhoods' teenagers' health. 

"We have never seen use of any substance by America's young people rise as rapidly as e-cigarette use is rising," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in December.  

The Food and Drug Administration declared there is a vaping epidemic among teenagers nationwide and released new guidelines to regulate the sale of the flavored e-cigarettes. Researchers said data shows teens are vaping more frequently and using flavored products more often. 

"Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory and attention," U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams wrote late last year. "Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs."

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Nicotine isn't the only villain in e-cigarettes. The American Cancer Society also warns the aerosols that users inhale and exhale when they are vaping can contain cancer-causing chemicals. Adams agrees. He also said vaping can potentially expose bystanders who can inhale them deeply into the lungs.

While the American Lung Association wants the feds to do more, the National Association of Convenience Stores protested the regulations telling members the feds "are picking winners and losers in the marketplace." The products are also sold online and at vape stores. 

In Davie this week, officers consider Indorewala a repeat offender. This is probably why a GoFundMe user set up a "Free My Boy" fundraiser to benefit Indorewala after his arrest. So far, the fundraiser only has two donors who both donated $5 each. Indorewala faces a misdemeanor charge for sale of tobacco product to minor. 

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.