DEA agents and local law enforcement officers conducted a synthetic drug takedown Monday and confiscated a lot of drugs and cash.
They executed 12 search warrants, seizing 20,000 units of synthetic designer drugs like Spice, K2, bath salts, or plant food.
They also confiscated 50 pounds of bulk Spice ready for retail packaging, 3 pounds of raw chemicals, $385,000, 4 vehicles, and 5 firearms.
Search warrants were executed at a manufacturing warehouse, 5 retail outlets, and various residences in Phoenix and Scottsdale. The DEA says it had eyes on this extensive drug organization since April 2012.
"We have struck another blow to the synthetic designer drug industry, from manufacturers and distributors to retailers," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. "DEA and our partners have seized large quantities of these dangerous substances and ill-gotten assets. We will continue to target these new and emerging drugs with every investigative tool at our disposal and bring to justice those who peddle these poisons and harm our society."
Some of the designer drugs were not specifically prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act -- but the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 allows these drugs to be treated as controlled substances if they are chemically similar.
In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to synthetic "Spice" and "bath salts." In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls, stated the DEA.
These products are sold in legitimate-looking packaging and hide under labels that claim "not for human consumption."