More than five million packets of designer synthetic drugs and $36 million in cash were seized in the first-ever nationwide law enforcement operation targeting the synthetic designer drug industry. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), synthetic designer drugs are often marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense or plant food.
Operation Log Jam was conducted by DEA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with help from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as other federal, state and local law enforcement members, and targeted various components of the synthetic designer drug industry in more than 100 U.S. cities. Nearly 100 individuals were arrested during the operation.
“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 Leonhart. “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.”
Synthetic cathinones and cannabinoids have been increasingly popular over the last few years among teens and young adults and are sold in retail stores and head shops and over the internet, DEA said. In 2010, poison centers across the country responded to more than 3,000 calls related to synthetic designer drugs, a number that increased to more than 13,000 calls in 2011.
“The synthetic drug industry is an emerging area where we can leverage our financial investigative expertise to trace the path of illicit drug proceeds by identifying the financial linkages among the various co-conspirators,” said IRS Criminal Investigations Chief Richard Weber. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and ultimately dismantle the highest level drug trafficking and drug money laundering organizations that pose the greatest threat to Americans and American interests.”