Lots of synthetic marijuana seized in area drug raids
One employee of a Forty Fort business was arrested and charged in federal court.
Last Modified: April 22. 2013 2:50PM
A large amount of drug paraphernalia and synthetic marijuana was seized from each of four businesses in Luzerne County raided in a joint state and federal investigation, a state deputy attorney general said Thursday.
Agents with the state Office of Attorney General and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration served search warrants Wednesday at: the Sunoco Service Station on Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort; Magikal Garden on Wyoming Avenue, Exeter; Back Mountain Tobacco on the Dallas Memorial Highway, Dallas and Puff and Huff on North Fourth Street, West Hazleton.
State Deputy Attorney General Tim Doherty said the raids were part of a cooperative effort by state and federal authorities. Raids in Pennsylvania were called “Operation Artificial High” while the DEA called the national investigation “Operation Log Jam.”
“In every location, we seized a large amount of paraphernalia and synthetic marijuana,’ Doherty said about the four businesses in Luzerne County that were searched.
DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said during a webcast from Arlington, Va., that 4.8 million packets of synthetic marijuana and 167,000 packets of bath salts were seized, in addition to $36 million in cash during similar raids in 90 cities in 30 states.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said the raids across the state resulted in the seizure of more than 300,000 packets of synthetic marijuana and bath salts with an estimated street value of $1.25 million, 50,000 pieces of drug paraphernalia and $250,000 cash.
Agents with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement also took part in the national and local raids.
At least one person, Manjinder C. Singh, was arrested when agents raided the Sunoco Service Station in Forty Fort. Singh was charged in U.S. federal court with six felony counts of distribution of synthetic marijuana.
Doherty said the investigation is on-going and may lead to additional charges.
Possession and sale of synthetic drugs and bath salts was outlawed in Pennsylvania in 2011. Congress recently added 26 synthetic substances to the federal Controlled Substance Act, listing synthetic marijuana and bath salts as Schedule I substances.
“These man-made chemicals have triggered a wave of bizarre and violent reactions, medical emergencies and deaths across the country since they began appearing on the street in 2009,” Kelly said.
“Despite innocent sounding names like Bliss or Vanilla Sky, these drugs can combine the worst qualities of traditional street drugs like LSD, cocaine or methamphetamine,” she said.
A heroin addict interviewed by The Times Leader in April 2011 described bath salts as being more potent and dangerous than heroin.