The DEA press release and press conference yesterday included details of their extensive operation, making a promise to their targets that ”you are nothing more than a drug trafficker and we will bring you to justice”
The DEA, IRS, ICE, Treasury Department, FBI, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U. S. Customs and Border Protection, sheriff’s departments, local police departments, state troopers, all participated in the raids against retails, distributors and manufacturers of synthetic drugs.
Local agencies in over 100 locations across the country participated in the busts, raiding everything from small convenience stores, gas stations, distribution site and manufacturing facilities.
Over 265 search warrants were executed in 90 cities across 30 US states. There were 29 manufacturing facilities among those searches.
The sting produced enough synthetic marijuana to produce 40 million packages, some already in sealed packages ready for sale. They also seized 167,000 packages of synthetic stimulants (“bath salts”) and loose cathinones sufficient to produce an estimated 392,000 more packages of “bath salts.”
The sting also produced 36 million in case and 6 million in assets, which is a figure expected to be just the tip of the iceberg. Authorities are still going over financial and personal records.
53 weapons were seized in the sting.
In their press conference, the DEA stated that they primarily viewed synthetic drugs as a domestic problem but acknowledged that the sources for these chemicals are international, with a large number of imports eminating from China and South Asian countries, which is another focus of the investigation. Immigration and Custums Enforcement promised a big emphasis on restricting the import and distribution of synthetic drugs. ICE is active in 47 countries across the globe.
In addition, over 100 IRS agents involved in the Operation. Their role was to “identify and document the movement of money during a crime, and the efforts employed to hide and conceal the profits. This documentation can provide “proof of criminal activity.”
A list of the cities targeted and links to news stories, including more details about the government agencies that participated, total product, cash and property confiscated, and targets of the raids can be found elsewhere on the blog.
Here is just a sample:
In Tampa Bay, the DEA busted what may be the largest distributors in the nation–including busting homes, storage units, and manufacturing facilities.
Two additional busts were equally significant: Last night, Nutragenomics, a company based in Alpharetta, GA was raided by the DEA. Earlier this year, Nutragenomics was sued by the state of West Virginia for selling chemicals used to manufacture synthetic drugs.
There were no arrests (yet), in the Nutragenomics bust, but the DEA seized something a lot more significant: the company records.
With those records, the DEA may have a map of the distribution networks, manufacturers, and buyers of synthetic drug chemicals. Look for some significant busts in the near future from the information contained in those records.
A second, even more satisfying, bust took place in Hillsborough County, FL. As many of our long-time readers remember, Hillsborough County, and Sheriff Gee have been a familiar sight on To The Maximus Blog.
As early as last February, a To The Maximus volunteer, had begun investigating the mess in Hillsborough County after several teens were arrested in neighboring Polk County for using synthetic marijuana, but the shop owner in Hillsborough County was not charged.
We called out Sheriff Gee on several occasions, especially when he had been hesitant to arrest an obvious manufacturing plant TWICE. Finally, on April 20th, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department arrested two clerks at a convenience store. At that time, To The Maximus Blog published, “Great Job Sheriff Gee, Now Get the Manufacturers!”
It appears, almost six months after the Polk County Kids were arrested, Sheriff Gee has finally been pushed to do something in Hillsborough County. Too bad so many lives had to be destroyed while he was waiting.
To The Maximus Blog looks forward to the Press Conference, and we will be reporting on this big bust today, and in the many weeks that follow today’s announcement.