Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jul 2012
Source: Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
Copyright: 2012 The Union Leader Corp.
Author: John Quinn


SOMERSWORTH -- As part of a nationwide operation against synthetic
designer drugs, federal, state and local officials seized about five
million packets of illegal materials marketed as bath salts, spice,
incense or plant food last week.

More than 90 people were taken into custody and at least $36 million
in cash was seized as warrants were executed in 109 communities
throughout the country, including at a home in Gilford and stores in
Salem and Somersworth.

As part of Operation Log Jam -- the first major effort against
designer drug retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers -- federal,
state and local officials have seized more than 4.8 million packets of
synthetic cannabinoids, known as K2 or Spice, and 167,000 packets of
bath salts, along with materials to produce more of both drugs,
according to a release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement

As part of a five-month investigation, local police and members of the
DEA found more than 2,100 packets in synthetic cannabinoids during a
search at the Village Market at 35 Washington St. Somersworth, on Wednesday.

Additionally, investigators discovered records that indicated more
than 15 pounds of synthetic cathinoids, or bath salt, known as "Amped"
had been received and sold from the market between January and May,
according to police.

The investigation, which began in February, determined "Amped" was the
prevalent bath salt used in the Somersworth area.

In May, investigators from the U.S. Postal Service intercepted two
packages which contained 2,100 units of "Amped." The packages, which
were headed for the Village Market, came from Arizona and could be
worth more than $65,000, if sold, according to police.

While no arrests occurred in connection with the discovery Wednesday,
police anticipated charges to be filed as the investigation continues
in Somersworth, according to Capt. Russell Timmons.

Members of the DEA could not be reached for comment or further details
in the N.H. cases.

Operation Log Jam was conducted jointly by the DEA and the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 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.

Federal agencies have partnered together with local and state
authorities to bring the synthetic designer drug industry "to its
knees," according to James Chaparro, acting director of ICE's Office
of Homeland Security Investigations.

"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," Chaparro said in the release.

The use of synthetic designer drugs -- marketed as "bath salts" or
"plant food" -- and smokable herbal blends, which provide a
marijuana-like high, have become increasingly popular with teenagers
and young adults in the past few years even though they have not been
approved for human consumption or medical use by the Food and Drug
Administration, according to the release.

With such names as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Vanilla Sky" or
"Bliss," the synthetic drugs mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD, MDMA
and methamphetamines, according to the release.

"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," according to the release.

Meanwhile synthetic cannabinoids, including the "incense" of brands
"Spice," "K2," "Blaze" and "Red X Dawn," are actually plant materials
coated with "dangerous psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the
active ingredient in marijuana," according to the release.

For more information about this operation and synthetic designer
drugs, go to
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