Fake pot targeted in Lake County’s Operation Log Jam

Six Lake County businesses are accused of selling illegal synthetic marijuana as a result of an undercover operation that received assistance from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, authorities announced Thursday.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said his office’s newly formed special investigations unit, along with DEA agents, worked the undercover probe.

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Authorities said about $103,200 was seized from the six stores, along with the phony pot, six grams of real marijuana, four grams of heroin, drug paraphernalia, four semiautomatic pistols and two vehicles.

“The cash that we seized obviously is significant and it’s a great deterrent,” Curran said at a news conference.

Curran said state forfeiture laws allowed authorities to seize what he called “commingled” money from the businesses when the Operation Log Jam busts occurred. That means cash received from legal sales and illicit means was taken from the retailers by authorities as evidence for the cases.

DEA agents and the sheriff’s special investigations unit executed six search warrants and made one controlled buy at the grocery, tobacco and liquor stores for the operation. They went to businesses from May 31 through July 25.

Curran said the Lake County Board will address the stores’ business licenses at some point. The following are the businesses where authorities said the fake pot was found: Waukegan Liquors, 2827 Belvidere Road, Waukegan; Gages Lake Food and Liquor, 18495 W. Old Gages Lake Road in Gages Lake; Discount Tobacco, 816 E. Grand Ave., Fox Lake; Ma and Pa’s Grocery, 37737 Green Bay Road, Beach Park; 41 News, 41440 Route 41, Wadsworth; Glen Rock Liquor and Mini-Mart, 834 Glen Rock Ave., Waukegan.

Under a state law effective since January, a wider net was cast in an effort to prohibit all compounds sold over the counter that often are smoked by users to get the same high as marijuana. State lawmakers previously tried to ban fake marijuana sold as potpourri and called K2, K4 or “spice,” but manufacturers changed the chemical compounds to make the products legal again. Bogus weed sold under the brand names Kush and Maui Wowie Premium Blend was on display Thursday at sheriff’s police headquarters.

Officials said confirmation that the Operation Log Jam material was synthetic marijuana came through testing at the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory in Vernon Hills.

Garth Glassburg, the lab’s executive director, said law enforcement must remain vigilant because hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties of the fake pot can be put on the street at any time.



DEA: 31-state bust for bath salts, synthetic marijuana

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart announcing a nationwide bust for synthetic drugs, at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va., Thursday, July 26, 2012

(Credit: AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON – More than $36 million in cash was seized and 91 people in 31 states were arrested in a nationwide crackdown on “designer drugs” such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts.



Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration seized 4.9 million packets of synthetic marijuana, as well as material to make 13.6 million more packages, said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. DEA and other law enforcement agencies also seized 167,000 packages of bath salts and materials to make an additional 392,000 packets.

Leonhart said the synthetic drugs are “marketed directly to teenagers.” The drugs have become a popular alternative to traditional street drugs, but law enforcement and health professionals warned that the chemicals used to make them haven’t been tested or approved for human consumption.

Agents raided smoke shops and other sellers of synthetic drugs that are linked to psychotic episodes and deaths of users. The synthetic marijuana is sold under brand names such as “K2” and “Spice.”

The agency temporarily banned some of the chemicals found in synthetic marijuana, and President Barack Obama signed a measure this month that bans the sale, production and possession of many of the chemicals found in most popular synthetic drugs.

But experts who studied the drugs estimate that there are more than 100 different bath-salt chemicals circulating. Bath salts can mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine.

Synthetic drug use has grown since the products were first introduced into the market a few years ago. Authorities say they are readily available for purchase in smoke shops and sometimes even corner gas stations, and at a relatively low price, and that’s made them a popular alternative to street drugs.

Feds tout first national bust of synthetic drugs

Federal officials touted success in their first national operation against synthetic drugs.

President Obama recently signed a law to ban the high-inducing chemical compounds sold as bath salts, “Spice” and “K2.” The substances have been linked to violent episodes and deaths, and became available in retail stores and online as their popularity increased.

Law enforcement officials made 90 arrests as part of Operation Log Jam, a joint effort by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several other agencies.


The head of the DEA said the effort disrupted the “entire” synthetic drug industry by targeting retailers and manufacturers alike.

“We are committed to targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative, and investigative tool at our disposal,” Michele M. Leonhart said.

The action netted 5 million packets of finished synthetic drugs and the raw materials that could have been used to create nearly three times that amount. Officials also seized $36 million in cash.

“Today, we struck a huge blow to the synthetic-drug industry,” said James Chaparro, an investigations official at ICE.

“The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits.”

Poison control centers saw cases related to synthetic drugs more than quadruple between 2010 and 2011, according to the DEA.

Users report experiencing “impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia, and violent episodes,” the agency said, warning that the drugs’ long-term effects are “potentially severe.”


Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) praised the operation and invoked a constituent, David Rozga, who reportedly committed suicide after taking one of the drugs.

“It’s a testament to the cynicism and greed of manufacturers, importers, and distributors that these products were ever put on store shelves,” Grassley said.

“If they have any conscience, they’ll find legitimate ways to make money instead of preying on 18-year-olds.”

Drug suspect shot during arrest at Home Depot

UNION GAP, Wash. — A suspect attempting to flee arrest during a drug bust was shot multiple times in the parking lot of the Home Depot store on South First Street, according to police.

The man was taken to a local hospital by ambulance. A second man was taken into custody.

Yakima police Capt. Rod Light said a federal Drug Enforcement Administration task force conducted a drug buy and was attempting to arrest the suspect when he tried to flee.

The suspect, driving a white minivan, rammed several vehicles before an officer shot him, Light said.

None of the five or six officers involved in the operation was injured.

The shooting about 1:30 p.m. occurred in that portion of the Home Depot parking lot between the Taco Time and Burger King restaurants on South First Street.

Light referred all other questions to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.


Authorities announce arrest of 64 people in gang, drug bust in western Palm Beach County

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw displays a weapon seized from a Belle Glade resident

Local and federal authorities announced on Thursday the arrests of 64 people over an 18-month period for their involvement in several gang and cocaine trafficking organizations that spanned from the Glades area east Royal Palm Beach and Loxahatchee Groves.

Of the dozens netted during “Operation Wild West,” 17 of them were documented gang or associate gang members in Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said at a news conference Thursday. Further, 29 of those arrested will face federal drug trafficking charges, while the rest will face state weapons and drug charges.

“To me, the most significant thing that we’ve done here is take these people out of the system,” Bradshaw said. “I guarantee you this is going to make a difference.”

Among other things, sheriff’s agents — working with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office — seized 10 kilograms of powdered cocaine, more than 100 pounds of marijuana, and more than $300,000 in cash and jewelry.

The bust, Bradshaw said, “disrupted” the dealings of three gangs: Little Rock Dogs, Jack Boyz and Dogs Under Fire, whose respective operations run from Belle Glade and Pahokee east to Wellington and Royal Palm Beach.

The investigation started with a $10 street-level buy by an undercover agent, Bradshaw said. Agents then worked their way up, taking an “entire group of people” of the streets.

Those people were armed, he said. Agents also seized 12 firearms — such as an AK-47 and other semi-automatic weapons — and a ballistic vest: weapons that are often used in retaliatory shootings and against deputies who patrol the streets.

According to a criminal complaint filed by a DEA agent involved in the investigation, two of the arrested — Tomas and Israel Cardona — allegedly supplied cocaine to Carlos Jose Marcelo, who in turn is accused of distributing the cocaine to other dealers across South Florida.

DEA agents investigated the three men from November 2011 to April 2012 and listened in on phone conversations between the them regarding when shipments of cocaine might arrive in South Florida. Agents even heard Marcelo say that he was selling out of his cocaine supply faster than he could get it. Much of that cocaine was being sold to people like Francisco Lorenzo, who is facing possession and distribution charges, in areas such as Loxahatchee Groves.

The three were arrested in April. Agents seized about seven kilograms of cocaine from Marcelo after they pulled him over near his home on Dogwood Road in suburban West Palm Beach.

Bradshaw said that he expects future arrests stemming from Operation Wild West. “We’re getting violent people off the streets.”

Meanwhile, Bradshaw also announced on Thursday the arrest of seven other men; arrests that are independent of Operation Wild West.

The men were arrested in connection to a series of shootings in Belle Glade during the past few months — including two drive-by shootings.

Lt. Scott Smith, of the sheriff’s Violent Crimes unit, added that he expects to close out two unsolved homicides out of the Glades area and connect them to at least one of the seven men.

Of that list, Bradshaw said, two of the men —Edward Shine, 25, and Jean Mila, 28 — were major players in recent shootings in the Glades. Shine is facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, while Mila faces firearm possession charges.

“These thugs, these gang members are shooting at each other,” Bradshaw said. “When they are spraying 30 rounds… where are the rest of the bullets going to go?”

Staff researcher Niels Heimeriks contributed to this story.


Local and federal authorities have arrested 64 people over the past 18 months on various drug and weapons charges. They also seized:

  • About 10 kilograms of powder cocaine
  • Five ounces of crack cocaine
  • 215 marijuana plants
  • More than 100 pounds of processed marijuana
  • 12 firearms
  • a ballistic vest
  • 10 vehicles
  • About $300,000 in cash
  • Jewelry worth $30,000


Source: PBSO.

DEA busts ‘bath salts’ ring

A covert Houston-area operation was at the center of a designer drug bust that resulted in the arrests of 90 people nationwide and the seizure of millions of packets of illegal synthetic “bath salts.”

Javier Peña, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency Houston Division, says more arrests are likely. Photo: Brett Coomer / © 2012 Houston Chronicle

Drug Enforcement Administration agents announced Thursday that they raided a factory and warehouse in Rosenberg, where the drugs allegedly were manufactured and packaged for distribution here and in other parts of the United States.

“This was an actual manufacturer and distribution lab that was supplying Houston and the rest of the country,” DEA Houston Division chief Javier Pena said. “This is major.”

More than $36 million also was confiscated across 109 cities in the United States as part of the production and sale of what’s often marketed as bath salts, spice, incense, or plant food, according to the DEA.

Brightly colored, artistically designed packages of the drugs carried names like Mystic, Impact and Kush, Mind Wave and TKO.

In the warehouse, the drugs were organized into large plastic tubs that lined wall shelving, according to photos provided by DEA.

Agents searched as many as 10 addresses locally, including smoke shops, but court records remain sealed.

The investigation continues, and more arrests are expected locally, Pena said.

He would not say who is believed to be behind the operation, other than to say, “white guys from Houston were running it; very complex, sophisticated.”

The raids came as part of the first national sweep against the drug that swept onto the U.S. scene only a few years ago and just weeks ago was made illegal.

In 2009, the DEA had two instances of so-called “bath salts” turning up in the United States, but by 2011, there were more than 900 in 34 states, according to an agency report.

Producing the drug requires ingredients that take on a look similar to marijuana but when ready for use take on the look of bath crystals.

“It is a deadly drug that has an innocuous name and can mislead individuals into trying this type of drug that attacks the central nervous system and causes delusions and hallucinations,” said Mike Vigil, a retired chief of international operations for the DEA.

Vigil said the drug amounts to being a poor man’s cocaine or methamphetamine.

“The stuff can be swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected,” Vigil said.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, head of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, cautioned law enforcement officers that a law recently signed by President Barack Obama likely will curb the illicit sales of bath salts and other drugs but that preventing use of the drugs is the most “cost-effective, common sense” approach.

“Synthetic drugs like ‘bath salts’ … are a serious threat to health and safety,” Kerlikowske said in late June. “I urge families to take time today to learn what these drugs are and discuss the harms that all drugs pose to young people in America.”

Spice Lab Raided on Redington Beach

A private home was raided in a region-wide drug bust that targeted makers of synthetic marijuana.

Federal agents executed a search warrant at a home on Gulf Boulevard Wednesday in a region-wide synthetic marijuana raid that targeted operations where the illegal drug allegedly was being made.

The private Redington Beach residence on the 15000 block of Gulf Boulevard was one of a half-dozen places busted by federal agents, with assistance from the Hillsbourgh County Sheriff’s Office.

Seized were tens of thousands of bags of Spice or K2, retail-ready synthetic marijuana products, as well as the materials used to make them. Newly enacted Florida laws make it illegal to produce, possess or sell synthetic marijuana.

Authorities told WTSP that the street value of the drugs seized is in the millions of dollars. Similar sweeps were conducted this week by federal agents across the country.

Search warrants were served at the following locations:

  • Private Residence-15708 Gulf Blvd, Redington Beach FL
  • Wild Incense Distribution Warehouse-4401 E 10th Ave,Tampa
  • Wild Incense Maufacturing Facility-4101 E. 12th Ave, Tampa
  • Stop Smoke Shop (Retail Distributor)-10821 N.56th Street, Tampa
  • Jonny Clearwater Manufacturing-10134 Fisher Ave, Suite A-2 Brandon FL
  • Warehouse-6308 Benjamin Road Suite #710, Tampa

There were no arrests at this time as the nationwide investigation continues.

Wife of man arrested in DEA sweep: ‘He’s a good father’

TIGARD, Ore. – The wife of a man arrested as part of the nation’s first-ever crack down on “designer drugs” said she was unaware her husband may have been involved in illegal activity.

Federal prosecutors charged Joshua P. Becker with conspiracy as part of “Operation Log Jam.”

Speaking from her home in Tigard, which had been raided by agents Wednesday, Shyloah Becker said she had no idea what her husband was doing: “He’s works a lot,” she said. “I stay out of it, you know. Probably for this reason. But no, I didn’t know.”

Blames Idaho for not investigating son’s death

“All he’s been trying to do is make it to where I don’t have to put the kids in day care anymore,” she tells KOIN Thursday. After all, it was in an Idaho daycare where one of her sons died after being left unattended for hours, Shyloah said.

Shyloah said on July 5, 2009, she dropped her 15-month-old son off at daycare. He was put in a booster seat by the babysitter, Shyloah said.

“His death certificate says death by asphyxiation,” Shyloah said. “[The State of Idaho] did nothing for me – for my son. They didn’t even question the woman that was watching him.”

Now she’s upset Drug Enforcement Administration agents out of Idaho targeted her husband, and that the State of Idaho failed to follow up on the death of their child.

Shyloah said that, after the couple’s son died, her husband made a vow to her: He would work so she could stay home and take care of their other three kids.

“I understand my husband was probably doing things that weren’t very great,” Shyloah said. “You know, as long as I can stay home with my kids and not have something like this happen again is all that matters.”

Shyloah said she stayed out of her husband’s business affairs.

“There’s so much he does on a daily basis; it’s hard to keep track of him,” she said. “…He’s a good father. He’s a good man.”Watch the attached video for more.

Joshua Becker has been charged with an operation based out of Idaho. Officials said he was helping to distribute synthetic marijuana.

According to court records, Joshua and his alleged associates made more than $3 million selling the designer drugs — often targeted toward kids and young adults. Agents said they searched Joshua’s up-scale Tigard home and also a storage facility in Vancouver where they found packaging material and synthetic drugs.

Joshua Becker will remain at the Multnomah County Detention Center under a federal hold until he can be transported to Idaho, officials said. Shyloah says he will plead not guilty.

Feds give more details about drug raids that netted Tigard man



Feds give more details about drug raids that netted Tigard man
An agent removes boxes from a Vancouver warehouse during a drug raid on Wednesday. Agents asked us to not publish photos of their faces.


PORTLAND, Ore. – More than 80 people around the country were arrested as part of an operation that netted millions of packets of synthetic illegal drugs.

Several of those raids and one arrest happened in the Portland area.

Dubbed Operation Log Jam, the raids targeted people who make synthetic marijuana known as “spice”, incense or “K2”, as well as so-called “bath salts.”

Tigard resident Joshua Becker was arrested at his home during the operation on Wednesday. He will be sent to Idaho where he is accused of distributing synthetic drugs.

Federal agents also seized boxes of evidence from his warehouse in Vancouver.

Across the country, agents seized 4.8 million packets of synthetic marijuana and the products they said could be used to make 13.6 million more. They also seized 167,000 packets of bath salts and the product to make 392,000 more.

“This enforcement action has disrupted the entire illegal industry, from manufacturers to retailers,” said Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Together with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative, and investigative tool at our disposal.”

The DEA says there has been a growing market for these synthetic drugs. That includes a large market among teens and young adults who think these synthetic drugs won’t be caught in drug tests.

Although some of the drugs that were seized are not specifically illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, a separate law allows police to treat them like illegal drugs if they are proved to be similar to their illegal counterparts.

Federal prosecutors plan to use that argument when pursuing the cases from Operation Log Jam, DEA officials said.

Houston at center of major synthetic drug bust

DEA agents raided a facility in Houston and found more than $5 million worth of illegal synthetic drugs. Photo: . / HC

A covert Houston operation was at the center of a designer drug industry bust orchestrated by federal agents that resulted in the arrests of 90 people nationwide and the seizure of millions of packets of illegal synthetic drugs, sources close to the investigation told the Houston Chronicle.

Authorities in Houston raided a secret laboratory and local stores that were selling the synthetic drugs.

More than $36 million also was confiscated across 109 cities in the United States as part of the production and sale of what’s often marketed as bath salts, spice, incense, or plant food, according to an announcement Thursday made from Washington D.C.

“This was an actual manufacturer and distribution lab that was supplying Houston and the rest of the country,” DEA Houston chief Javier Pena said.

Pena said agents found more than 250,000 packages ready for distribution that contained one to five grams in each package. Agents said the loot was worth an estimated $5 million.

“This is major,” Pena said. “We were not expecting this.”

Pena said the location, which was in the Houston area, was used to mix the drug together and package it for distribution.

So-called bath salts mimic the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine and were recently made illegal in the United States.

“Although tremendous progress has been made in legislating and scheduling these dangerous substances, this enforcement action has disrupted the entire illegal industry, from manufacturers to retailers,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Together with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative, and investigative tool at our disposal.”

Over the past several years, there has been a growing use of, and interest in, synthetic cathinones (stimulants/hallucinogens) sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food.”

Marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky” or “Bliss,” these products are comprised of a class of dangerous substances. Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia, and violent episodes. The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe.