Synthetic drug raids here part of U.S. effort
Share with others:
The synthetic drug raids that occurred in Washington County this week were part of a larger string of nationwide crackdowns that investigators hope will help them track the sources of the increasingly popular compounds.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced in a statement Thursday that more than 90 people were arrested and more than 5 million packages of suspected synthetic drugs were seized during simultaneous searches in more than 109 cities across the country.
The Pennsylvania attorney general's office announced that it had worked with state police and other officials in Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland, Philadelphia, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery and Northampton counties to serve more than 50 search warrants on businesses suspected of selling compounds known as synthetic marijuana, "bath salts" and their corresponding paraphernalia.
"These man-made chemicals have triggered a wave of bizarre and violent reactions, medical emergencies and deaths across the country since they began appearing on the street in 2009," state Attorney General Linda Kelly said in a statement.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for her office, said officials have not yet made any arrests in the Pennsylvania cases because they are still reviewing evidence and attempting to identify people at the various levels of the distribution food chain -- chemists creating the chemical, distributors, street-level dealers.
"Unless you arrest the chain of suppliers," he said, "you can close down one shop and somebody else can open one."
Mr. Frederiksen said the attorney general's office worked with state police and other agencies to coordinate the simultaneous raids after it was contacted by the DEA, which worked with other federal agencies to coordinate similar searches in other states at the same time.
The DEA said it has noticed a significant increase in the number of calls officials receive for people who have been using synthetic drugs known as "bath salts" or "spice." In 2010, poison centers received 3,200 calls for people using the compounds. In 2011, they received more than 13,000 calls for people using those substances, 60 percent of whom were 25 or younger, according to DEA statistics.
First Published July 27, 2012 12:00 am