Drug Enforcement Administration

Phoenix

Douglas W. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge

November 06, 2012

Contact: Erica C. Curry

Phone Number: (602) 664-5600

DEA NEWS: Valley-wide Synthetic Drug Takedown

Investigation targeted the production and distribution of synthetic drugs

PHOENIX - Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA) along with various state and local law enforcement agencies executed 12 search warrants yesterday and seized more than 20,000 units of synthetic drugs in the second statewide enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of synthetic cannabinoids that are often marketed as Spice, K2 or plant food.

More than 20,000 units of synthetic (so-called “Spice”, “K2”) , 50 pounds of bulk spice ready for retail packaging, and over three kilograms of raw chemicals were seized. Also seized were over $385,000 in cash and in bank accounts, four vehicles and five firearms.

The operation involved the execution of 12 search warrants, including a manufacturing warehouse, five retail outlets and various residences in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Prior to the takedown, DEA and participating agencies had already seized 33 kilograms of (“Spice”) and several raw chemicals to produce an additional 110 kilograms of cannabinoids.

Since April 2012, DEA has been investigating an extensive drug organization responsible for the manufacturing and the distribution of synthetic drugs based in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

“We have struck another blow to the synthetic designer drug industry, from manufacturers and distributors to retailers," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. "DEA and our partners have seized large quantities of these dangerous substances and ill-gotten assets. We will continue to target these new and emerging drugs with every investigative tool at our disposal and bring to justice those who peddle these poisons and harm our society.”

While some of the designer drugs being marketed today that were seized in this investigation are not specifically prohibited in the Controlled Substances (CSA), the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of (AEA) allows these drugs to be treated as controlled substances if they are proven to be chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance.

Sold in legitimate-looking packaging, these insidious substances are marketed with benign and catchy titles like Spice, Blaze, Vanilla Sky and incense. And many of these products come with a disclaimer that they are ‘not for human consumption,’ to mask the dangers they pose. In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to synthetic “Spice” and “bath salts.” In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls.

DEA has used its emergency scheduling authority to combat both synthetic (the so-called bath salts like Ivory Wave, etc.) and synthetic (the so-called incense products like K2, Spice, etc.), temporarily placing several of these dangerous chemicals into Schedule I of the CSA. Congress has also acted, permanently placing 26 substances into Schedule I of the CSA.

Assistance was provided by the Phoenix Police Department and its SWAT Unit; the Scottsdale Police Department and its SWAT Unit; Gilbert Police Department and its SWAT Unit, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. For more information about synthetic designer drugs, visit www.dea.gov.

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The mission of the Drug Enforcement (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States.

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