DEA Follows Up On Promise To Go After Synthetic Drug Pushers

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EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- Synthetic drug sellers just took a big hit. Local and Federal agents raided shops nationwide.

Fox Files Investigator Chris Hayes was in Edwardsville when the DEA followed up on a recent promise

Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Shroba said, "We`re coming after you."

That was Shroba's warning to synthetic drug pushers just last week.  Today, law enforcement from more than a dozen agencies were all over St. Louis and the rest of the country.  They were seizing synthetic drugs and anything tied to those drugs.

We watched it go down at 'Tha Grind` in Edwardsville. (Yes, it's spelled "Tha Grind.")

One user told us it`s the third place she'd just visited in her attempt to buy synthetic pot.

She said, "They`re all being busted simultaneously."
Chris Hayes asked, "You`ve seen it?"
[Woman] "I`ve got pictures of it.
[Hayes] Three places.
[Woman] Yes, three places and I mean 'busted,' not 'oh we`re closed down,' but instead, 'We`re taking all your stuff."

People who work around "Tha Grind" say the place is so busy that customers barely walk in.  Customers reportedly have cash in hand and then hand it over at the door in exchange for a small packet of something.

The anonymous user added, "At 11:00 a.m. everyday, 15 people deep waiting.  At 10:30 they`d start to line up."

Fox 2 watched at least a half dozen customers trying to get in `Tha Grind` before it was even supposed to open.  One guy even walked behind our interview with the Madison County State`s Attorney.  The potential customer was extremely agitated that he couldn`t get in.  He said he needed a t-shirt.

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons commented about the man, "[This is] happening all day long and I think that goes to shows you how wide spread this is."

Gibbons said they`ll say more tomorrow as they`re neck deep in a major synthetic drug crackdown.  He said, "When we attack a problem, we attack on all fronts and that`s what`s happening here."

It`s been just two weeks since a Federal synthetic drug ban made this operation possible.  The woman who said she`d seen raids like this at two other places, told us she used synthetic drugs because she believed they were legal.  No more.  I asked her, "So this is enough to make you stop?"
[Woman] "I`m done, as of right this second -- I. Am. Done."

We'll hear more about these nationwide raids at a news conference Thursday.  This is a tremendous drug net involving local police, sheriff departments, state troopers, DEA - even Treasury and IRS agents.  We'll also likely soon learn about international ties to this synthetic drug conspiracy.

We'll continue to bring you details here on Fox 2, that you won't get anywhere else.


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