Washington County vendors are focus of synthetic drugs raid
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Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on Wednesday raided nine retail establishments in the Washington County area, cracking down on the sale of what police characterized as "extremely dangerous" synthetic drugs, including bath salts and a man-made drug called K2.
"There's a lot of work being done right now," said state Police Trooper Joe Christy. "There's a lot of evidence that's being seized and catalogued."
Trooper Christy said search warrants were served throughout the day at various local convenience stores and retailers, which were selling the drugs as a form of "herbal incense." No arrests were made, but more warrants are expected to be sought and served in the next few days, Trooper Christy said, and the investigation will continue.
The joint undercover investigation began two months ago when law enforcement began seeing a rise in the availability and use of synthetic drugs, Trooper Christy said.
"We're seeing an increasing number of people using them and/or the ill effects from them," including serious health problems, he said.
The raids reflected growing concern nationwide over the traffic of the compound, also known by the names "K2" or "Spice," which has a marijuana-like effect on the brain.
The agencies included the state police; the Washington and Canonsburg police departments; the Washington County Drug Task Force; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; U.S. postal inspectors; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Trooper Christy said the items were packaged "not for human consumption," but were nonetheless being smoked by people to get high.
Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone said compounds in the drugs can cause respiratory injuries, paranoia, vomiting and erratic behavior.
"These products are of unknown origin and are imported into this country," Mr. Vittone said in a news release issued Wednesday. "They present a serious, recognized health risk."
Parents, especially those with teenage children, should take heed, Trooper Christy said.
"You have to be aware of what your kids are involved with and know what's out there and what dangers are out there," he said. "These things were being sold in convenience stores and places where they just sell tobacco."
First Published July 26, 2012 12:00 am