Around five million packets of synthetic drugs have been seized. Everything from spice to bath salts have been picked up in raids across the nation as part of Operation Log Jam, the first ever nationwide action against the production and sale of synthetic drugs.
Thousands of those drugs came from Hancock County. Numerous complaints from citizens and local hospitals, treating patients who used synthetic drugs, led law enforcement to target four stores in Hancock County.
More than 27,000 packets of spice, potpourri and bath salts were confiscated from Bay Tobacco, Kiln Tobacco, Herbal Alternatives and Rob Shop.
The Drug Enforcement Administration took the lead in getting the millions of dollars worth of products off the streets.
Daniel Comeaux with D.E.A. said, “Unfortunately the public perception is that it is safe, and it’s absolutely not safe for consumption.”
Those who take the drugs can experience anything from hallucinations to even death. Law enforcers said one of the reasons it is so dangerous is because it is made and packaged locally.
Roland Jones with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said, “It’s kind of like methamphetamine labs, it doesn’t take a lot to be a producer or put this stuff together and I think that’s where we see the most proliferation of it.”
Agents are confident the products contain illegal chemicals, but arrests will not be made until the D.E.A. lab in Dallas confirms that. The raids followed a year long investigation in which informants made buys at the four stores, which tested positive.
“All of these locations were engaged in selling controlled substances,” Jones said.
Although thousands of the drugs are off the shelves in Hancock County, Bay St. Louis Police Chief Mike DeNardo said he knows there is more out there.
“Like anything else, you take something away and something replaces it, so we will keep on top of it,” DeNardo said. “I hope the businessmen selling the stuff understand this won’t be tolerated.”
Comeaux said,”We are untied. We are fighting this issue and we will continue to fight it.”
WLOX stopped by all the shops raided and all were open for business Thursday, but most did not want to talk about the raid.
The owner of Herbal Alternatives did tell us, they have not sold spice since 2010, but they said they sell potpourri and it is legal.
Drug agents said manufacturers try to get around the law with warnings on the packages that read, not for human consumption, but officials said, there is really no legitimate use for the product.