“I was kind of freaked out,” said a Gothic Gateway employee of what he experienced on Wednesday.
Employees like him, receiving some unexpected visitors.
“Usually, people in black it’s either a robber or a cop. I was relieved it was a cop. I was scared,” the employee, who declined to give KARK his name, said.
Russellville Police along with the Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, and the 5th Judicial Drug Task Force conducted a simultaneous raid on three retailers in Russellville, including Fantasy room and Second Chance Trading Post and Thrift Store.
They were armed with probable cause search warrants. Items seized during the searches are believed to be Schedule VI controlled substances.
“I believe the exact marketing terms are Spice, K2, potpourri, and incense,” said Russellville Police Public Information Officer Drew Latch.
The items are typically advertised as “Not for Human Consumption,” but consumers often ingest or inhale them to get high.
“Some have had very serious reactions,” Latch said. “When they’re actually using these items, they may not realize that the reactions could be serious to the extent of death. That’s why this is a priority for us. We’re trying to protect the health and safety of the public.”
The products are particularly popular among teens and young adults, but police warn it isn’t child’s play.
“That’s a group we’re trying to get the word out to the most, young people,” Latch said. “We want them to know that this is as dangerous as any other type of drug.”
Gothic Gateway workers insist their potpourri is solely to be used for its scent.
“Put it in a bowl in your house to make your house smell good,” the employee told us.
It’s an aromatic product, which at Gothic Gateway apparently requires an I.D. to purchase, or so said a sign posted on the wall.
“What people do with that — once they step outside the store is their own thing pretty much,” the employee said.
“So, people don’t advertise to you that they plan on smoking it?” KARK asked the employee.
“No. If they do, we show them the door and tell them not to come back,” he said. “We don’t sell anything to smoke.”
Still, with all of its potpourri confiscated in the raid, it could be a while before anyone walks through the gateway incense in hand.
According to Latch, store records were also confiscated during the raid. He said investigators will use those records to determine who would be criminally liable for the purchase of the items if they all prove to contain illegal substances.
A number of the products confiscated are also being sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for testing. The state legislature expanded the law banning not only specific chemical compounds that these incense and potpourri products are being treated with, but also includes any similar compounds.
No arrests were made during the raids, Latch said, but those could be forthcoming depending on the outcome of the investigation.