News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, executed multiple state search warrants today in Rutherford County as part of “Operation Synful Smoke” to begin enforcing new Tennessee laws surrounding the sale of synthetic drugs at area convenience stores and markets.
The 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested the TBI launch the investigation in conjunction with the Law Enforcement and Special Prosecutions Division of the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. Between June and August 2011, TBI Special Agents made approximately 150 undercover visits to more than 60 convenience stores in Rutherford County and purchased illegal drugs both over the counter and behind the counter which resulted in obtaining today’s search warrants. The drugs purchased were synthetic cannabinoids known by several names including “Herbal Incense” or “Potpourri” and synthetic methcathinone known as “Bath Salts” or “Plant Food.” The Public Chapter regarding synthetic cannabinoids, PC 274, went into effect July 1, 2011 and synthetic methcathinone, PC 169, on May 5, 2011.
Synthetic canabinoids are dried plant materials treated with chemicals sold under various brand names such as 7H, K2, Diablo, Exotica or Spice. Abusers smoke the product to experience effects similar to those induced by marijuana. Synthethic methcathinone is a central nervous stimulant similar to a Schedule I Controlled Substance sold in powder, liquid and crystal forms as plant food, insect repellant, pond cleaner and vacuum freshener. Abusers typically ingest, inhale, inject or smoke the product to experience an effect similar to amphetamines. The synthetic drugs can cause severe physical and psychological reactions and even death.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn said, “The warning labels that read ‘Not for Human Consumption’ are simply a ploy to try and get around the law. That will not work in Tennessee. As is evident with today’s search warrants, if business owners sell the drugs, law enforcement will seize the drugs.”
After the new laws went into effect, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper warned legitimate businesses to pull the products from their shelves. “The Attorney General’s office is pleased to be part of the effort to get these dangerous substances off store shelves. The Law Enforcement Division is working closely with local law enforcement, the District Attorney and the TBI in a coordinated effort to identify the illegal substances and halt their sale,” Attorney General Cooper said.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, US Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Nashville Police Department, Murfreesboro Police Department, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Smyrna Police Department and LaVergne Police Department were involved in the investigation and/or execution of today’s search warrants.
No arrests have been made as the investigation is still ongoing. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, TBI will turn the case and its evidence over to the 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office for prosecution.
News release from TBI: