ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The DEA is now revealing its nationwide synthetic drug crackdown, after a FOX 2 exclusive featuring Wednesday's St. Louis area raids.
Investigator Chris Hayes explains how police were hitting stores in nearly 100 cities from Texas to New York.
FOX 2 was the first media outlet in the country to break the fake "bath salt" story, after a hardcore cocaine user described "Ivory Wave" as ten times stronger than cocaine. Since then, we`ve learned he was not exaggerating as we`ve watched police struggle to stop it -- until now.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, James Shroba said, "Anyone who distributes synthetic drugs is a narcotics trafficker plain and simple and we intend to put them out of business.
At a news conference Thursday, Shroba was surrounded by police and prosecutors from all over the St. Louis area. Even postal inspectors and the IRS are working to stop a synthetic drug conspiracy the Feds call a billion dollar industry. Police and DEA agents filled a table with synthetic drug products worth millions.
Shroba explained, "A kilogram of raw material, for example of the synthetic pot, they can turn that around into $750,000 worth of profit -- 1 kilogram. So it`s incredibly lucrative for these individuals and they`re buying it in bulk. As soon as they get it they`re turning it around, spraying it on plant material, putting it in bags and shoving it down kids throats."
FOX 2 captured exclusive raid footage Wednesday at `Tha Grind` in Edwardsville (and yes, it is spelled 'THA Grind'). It's a head shop that could be described as `busier than McDonalds` -- until agents seized boxes of synthetic drugs and anything that users could buy to abuse them. 'Tha Grind' turned out to be just one of hundreds of targets.
Shroba described Wednesday's sting as, "The first nationwide coordinated strike against domestic manufacturers, distributors and retailers of so called fake pot and bath salts."
It`s called Operation Log Jam. It was made possible by a new Federal law called the "Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act." It was enacted in July of 2012 and it took just 16 days to see the nationwide result.
This is far from the final chapter, as street chemists are already whipping up new synthetic drug strains they think will evade police. In fact, a St. Louis County shop, we`ve repeatedly exposed in the Fox Files is still selling synthetic cocaine this minute. However we now know, synthetic drug pushers won`t get away with it without a fight from the government.