DEA kicks off nationwide war on synthetic marijuana

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Zachary Huffman Contributor
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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Thursday that it had successfully carried out “Operation Log-Jam,” a surprise attack on synthetic marijuana distributors.

In 24 hours, the DEA worked with other federal agencies, as well as state and local authorities, to seize 4.8 millions packets of synthetic marijuana and $36 million in cash from violators of a new federal ban against designer synthetic drugs.

“Today, we struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry. The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits,” said James Chaparro, acting director of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations. “ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring this industry to its knees.”

Companies like the Georgia-based chemical distributor Nutragenomics Manufacturing have been the subject of raids by federal agents as well as state and local authorities in recent weeks.

While authorities made no arrests when they invaded Nutragenomics in Alpharetta, Ga., officers from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation did seize boxes of evidence including documents and assorted chemicals for further investigation.

“This is a major national distributor of synthetic cannabinoids,” GBI special agent Rusty Grant told local news station WSBTV. “We believe this is a conspiracy amongst numerous people in the Atlanta area to distribute the synthetic cannabinoids across the country.”

The raid at Nutragenomics is only one of many similar incidents throughout the nation.

During a press conference this afternoon in Arlington, Va., DEA officials said that law enforcement officers in 109 cities arrested more than 90 individuals allegedly involved in the illicit trade of synthetic drugs.

While the drugs have faced scrutiny for some time, synthetic marijuana became illegal under federal law after New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer ensured that an amendment banning the substances was added to the Food and Drug Administration Safety Bill last month.

“If local retailers and manufacturers think that they can still get away with business as usual, and continue to sell and produce these synthetic poisons, then yesterday’s DEA raids should be a lesson to them,” Schumer told the New York Daily News. “I urge the DEA to continue such raids until these horrible and debilitating drugs are no longer sold anywhere in America.”

However, there are many people who are displeased with the DEA’s “Operation Log-Jam.”

Richard Broider, president of the North American Herbal Incense Trade Association, communicated his disappointment on Wednesday after he received notification of the raids.

“It’s a sad day for freedom,” Broider said.

Despite the disappointments of Broider and other herbal incense traders, federal authorities have vowed to continue their fight against the potentially dangerous synthetic drugs.

“Although tremendous progress has been made in legislating and scheduling these dangerous substances, this enforcement action has disrupted the entire illegal industry, from manufacturers to retailers,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in a press release. “Together with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative, and investigative tool at our disposal.”

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