Atlanta hub for synthetic drug distribution

8:44 AM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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Bags of synthetic marijuana
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  • ATLANTA -- The war on the latest scourge to our communities is in full swing. Synthetic or designer drugs were the target of a nationwide effort Thursday and according to local drug agents, Atlanta is at the heart of the problem.

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    The DEA and GBI conducted raids here in Atlanta as part of the nationwide raids. "In the last couple years we've had an explosion of different types of synthetic drugs," said Harry Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Atlanta.

    Sommers said names like LSD, PCP, GHB, and Ecstasy have been replaced by synthetic marijuana, K-2, Spice or bath salts. They are packaged attractively as plant food, potpourri or incense, but those who buy it know exactly what it's for. And they are readily available for purchase over the counter.

    DEA and GBI agents raided a warehouse in Chamblee where the drugs are packaged. They seized guns, money and bags of leaves coated with chemicals. Sommers said the manufactures use a leaf called Damiana. It is coated with a chemical compound and mixed in a cement mixer before being packaged.

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    GBI chemist Nellie Miles said the effects of the drugs are unpredictable. "The effects are endless," she said. "Hallucinations, seizures, comas, all of these affects have been documented."

    Miles said Atlanta is a hub for manufacturing and distributing the drug.

    More than 90 people in 30 states were arrested during the nationwide raids. Almost 5 million packets of fake pot and nearly 167,000 packages of "bath salts" were seized along with $36 million.

    Sommers said 100 pounds of chemically treated leaves were recovered in Atlanta with a value of $670,000 on the street.

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