Three Ohio Shops Raided in 'Bath Salts' Crackdown
At Bubby's Drive Thru in Byesville, Ohio, you could get a six-pack to go and some "bath salts" that pack a wallop like "cocaine on steroids."
Similar products were available at Quality Food Market in New Carlisle, west of Springfield, and Party Time Carryout in Cambridge.
No more. Officials from Attorney General Mike DeWine's office and a dozen law-enforcement agencies raided all three businesses yesterday as part of a crackdown on the sale of dangerous synthetic drugs, commonly known as bath salts, "spice" or "herbal incense." Two arrests were made.
More raids and arrests across the state are in the pipeline, DeWine said in an interview.
"We now are armed with the new law. We have what we need. We're working with local law enforcement, and we're going to continue doing this if they know places that are selling this junk," DeWine said.
"They market it to kids. The packaging often involves cartoonish figures," he said. "If it doesn't kill you, it's going to really mess you up."
Not only is DeWine going after owners and clerks who sell the synthetic drugs, his office also is seeking to shut down the businesses for up to a year by declaring them public nuisances and filing charges against sellers under the state consumer practices laws with fines up to $25,000 per incident.
Warrants were served in Clark, Montgomery and Guernsey counties following "investigations that uncovered synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana or herbal incense," being sold in three Ohio stores, DeWine's office said. The owner of the store in New Carlisle was charged with three felony counts of trafficking in a controlled substance, DeWine's office said.
The drugs involved are dangerous and deceptive. While they masquerade as bath salts and herbal incense --or in some cases products such Crystaal Bubbly Hookah Cleaner and White Pony Stain Remover --they are powerful, complex chemical blends. Often sold in smoke shops and corner markets, they gained popularity as alternatives to street drugs. They have been blamed for triggering psychotic episodes and deaths among users. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has also been raiding makers and sellers of the substances.
Dr. Dennis Mann, an emergency room physician at Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital, said the drugs are like "cocaine on steroids. ... Essentially, they overload your brain."
The results are paranoia, agitated delirium, hallucinations and sometimes violence, Mann said.
Law enforcement and medical personnel offer horror stories of people's bizarre behavior on bath salts. A Reynoldsburg man who imagined that raccoons stole his cellphone and were trying to set his house on fire chopped up his deck looking for the critters. An emergency room patient drank his own urine. Another man high on bath salts bit chunks out of his dog's flesh.
DeWine sent retailers statewide a letter last November warning them about state law against selling synthetic drugs.
"We gave business owners fair warning that if we found synthetic drugs in their stores that there would be consequences, and now we are following through with that promise," DeWine said.
The General Assembly has approved two laws making synthetic drugs illegal, most recently House Bill 334, which took effect in December.
Copyright 2013 - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
McClatchy-Tribune News Service