"Make no mistake, DEA and our partners are committed to combating this alarming and dangerous trend, and Operation Log Jam is just the first of many we'll take against these criminals," said Michele Leonhart, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
New federal legislation outlaws 26 different chemicals in the drugs, providing an extra tool in the battle. Missouri law already covers a broad number of chemicals, but criminals have persevered.
"They'll pull things out and plug things in, and it's like a giant equation and nobody really knows what's in it," Brown said.
What communities do know, is that it's causing harm.
"The lady actually was in tears when we entered their store to take over. They just said it's been people are in and out of there- there's a line in the mornings to get in, and they're just not seeing anything good to come out of there," said Early.
"Though the formulas that make up these illicit chemical cocktails may be complex, the message here today is quite simple. These drugs are dangerous, and they're illegal. If you're involved in the manufacture, importation, distribution or sale of these illicit chemicals, we will come after you," said James Chaparro of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations.
Last year, poison centers nationwide responded to more than 13,000 calls related to the synthetic drugs, compared to 3,200 calls the year before. Sixty percent of cases involved someone 25 and younger.
DEA NEWS: Nationwide Synthetic Drug Takedown
19 million packets of synthetic drugs seized and $36 million in cash
WASHINGTON – 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.More than $36 million in cash was also seized.
As of today, 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.
Operation Log Jam was conducted jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE), with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service,U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as countless state and local law enforcement members in more than 109 U.S. cities and targetedevery level of the synthetic designer drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers.
“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.”
“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,” said Acting Director of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations James Chaparro. “ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring this industry to its knees.”