Eleven cities in Illinois were part of a nationwide bust targeting the synthetic drug industry in 90 cities spanning 30 states, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced in a press conference in Arlington, Va.Thursday.
In cities across the United States Wednesday, law enforcement officers, as part of Operation Log Jam, seized around $36 million and $20 million worth of packets and materials to make packets of synthetic cannabinoids, according to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. Police also made over 90 arrests.
"This operation is the first nationwide, coordinated US law enforcement strike, specifically targeting designer, synthetic drugs," Leonhart said at a press conference streamed live online Thursday. "Sold in legitimate looking packaging, these insidious substances are marketed directly to teenagers and to young adults, with benign and catchy titles like Spice, K-2, Blaze, Vanilla Sky, and Incense."
Suburban Lake County took part in the nationwide bust, with the Lake County Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit seizing drugs, weapons and cash, and arresting four people after a six-month investigation.
The investigation targeted six Lake County liquor, adult book and tobacco stores illegally selling K-2, a form of synthetic marijuana, the Lake County Sheriff's office reported Thursday.
Officers executed warrants or conducted bust buys at the stores, seizing in total 21,850 grams of K-2 and around $95,000 along with 2 cars, 4 guns, and small amounts of cannabis and heroin, according to officials.
"What it really means is what we've done for the community," said Chief Wayne Hunter, of the Lake County Sheriff's Department to the Chicago Tribune. "We took 22 kilograms of K-2 off the street. This is the new plague upon our land. This stuff is geared toward children, kids."
Synthetic drugs are a growing problem in the United States, according to James Shroba of the St. Louis DEA office, the Associated Press reports. Operation Log Jam sends a message that law enforcement will be able to find those who illegally sell or manufacture the drugs, Shroba says.