UPDATE: 11:42 a.m. Patch has learned that a dramatic search warrant served in San Juan Capistrano Wednesday is tied to a nationwide “synthetic drug takedown,” as the Drug Enforcement Administration is calling it.
A DEA map showing areas of operation for the synthetic drug dealers includes Laguna Niguel and Escondido in San Diego County.
More than 90 individuals were arrested and more than five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs were seized in the first-ever nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of synthetic drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense, or plant food, according to a DEA press release.
More than $36 million in cash was also seized, according to the DEA.
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Wednesday’s search warrant – in which an armored vehicle and federal agents seen with rifles in the Rancho Madrina tract – was indeed part of “Operation Log Jam,” as the DEA has dubbed it.
The effort was a joint effort of the DEA and ICE with assists from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Service, the FBI, among other federal agencies, according to the DEA press release.
More than 4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids (ex. K2, Spice) and the products to produce nearly 13.6 million more, as well as 167,000 packets of synthetic cathinones (ex. bath salts), and the products to produce an additional 392,000 were seized, according to the DEA.
“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,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in the press release.
“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,” he said.
Acting Director of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations James Chaparro said: “Today, we struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry. 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. ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring this industry to its knees.”
Here is San Juan Capistrano Patch’s story from 10:48 a.m.
Federal agents served a search warrant in an upscale San Juan Capistrano neighborhood Wednesday, sending an armored vehicle and armed officers onto a quiet, suburban street.
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said she could offer few details.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” said Lori Haley. “We don’t want to compromise an investigation.”
Neighbors told Patch that officers used a loud speaker to tell the homeowner in the 31000 block of Carril de Maderas in the Rancho Madrina tract that they had a search warrant. The owner and his wife were reportedly handcuffed.
“The wife sat in the SWAT tank with her two young children. The husband sat handcuffed on a driveway of another home on the street,” said one neighbor who asked not to be identified. “There were six men, fully decked out in armor, head gear and rifles, on this Homeland Security tank, as it rolled down the street.”
Haley said she didn’t believe there were any arrests made in connection with the Wednesday operation.
“I can’t pinpoint when it will culminate or how it will culminate,” Haley said.