Confiscated packets of synthetic drugs are shown to the media during a press conference at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s offices in El Paso, Texas, Thursday. AP Photo
Federal search and seizure warrants were executed at three Roswell businesses in the first-ever nationwide crackdown on the synthetic designer drug industry.
Roswell businesses Area 420, Fatt Kidds Zone, and Big B’s were among 48 businesses, residences and other locations throughout New Mexico to be targeted for the production and sale of dangerous drugs, which have been marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense or plant food.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration and its partners have pursued cases in more than 80 cities in the United States, and have “targeted every level of the synthetic designer drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.”
The takedown, dubbed Operation Log Jam, has resulted in more than 90 arrests and the seizure of more than 5 million packets of synthetic drugs.
“Dangerous, highly addictive and illegal drugs in any form and by any name are still dangerous, highly addictive and illegal,” Kenneth J. Gonzales, U.S. district attorney, stated. “It is imperative that everyone, especially unwary young people, realize that this stuff is not for sport, and we will prosecute those who know the dangers but push it for profit behind a façade of a legitimate business. I thank DEA and its federal and local partners here in New Mexico for working very hard to eradicate these drugs from our community.”
On Wednesday, DEA agents arrested four Albuquerque residents charged with conspiracy to distribute synthetic drugs in Bernalillo County from February through July. The indictment seeks forfeiture of property and a money judgment of $1.6 million.
Participants of Operation Log Jam also include Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and state and local law enforcement.
Law enforcement officers have executed federal search and seizure warrants at more than a dozen businesses in Albuquerque, 10 businesses in Las Cruces, one business in Sunland Park, and three businesses in Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, Alamogordo and Roswell.
According to the DOJ press release, the synthetic stimulants and hallucinogens have been marketed under such names as Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky or Bliss, and include dangerous substances that might mimic cocaine, LSD, MDMA and methamphetamine. The products are sold at retail outlets, head shops and on the Internet, and have become popular “among teens and young adults and those who mistakenly believe they can bypass the drug testing protocols that have been set up by employers and government agencies to protect public safety.”
The drugs have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and do not receive oversight in the manufacturing process.
“DEA remains committed to raising public awareness about the dangers of synthetic drugs and to removing these harmful substances off the streets,” Joseph M. Arabit, El Paso DEA special agent in charge, stated. “Those who engage in the sale of these drugs should be put on notice that DEA and our law enforcement partners will hold them accountable for their actions. Dealers will be investigated and arrested, and their illicit assets will be seized.”