MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 1, 2013

Synthetic marijuana object of store raids

No arrests made, but DA says progress made against ‘very dangerous’ drug

— TAHLEQUAH — Law enforcers raided three stores Thursday and seized thousands of dollars’ worth of synthetic marijuana and other items.

Agents in the District 27 and District 13 Drug Task Forces hit two stores in Tahlequah and one in Wagoner. Although no arrests were made, District 27 District Attorney Brian Kuester said the raids presented progress against what he called a “very dangerous” drug.

“I know for a fact there have been recorded deaths,” he said. “Maybe not in District 27, but elsewhere.”

Agents first swooped in on Outer Zone, a Tahlequah store at 1014 S. Muskogee St., just across the street from the town’s 911 Center. The store had been raided by authorities in November. Agents detained multiple people at the store and took away boxes of evidence.

Some agents at the store then split off and went to T&B Blasters, 112 Spring St., which markets “herbal smoking” and “smoking accessories,” according to an outdoor sign.

Blasters advertised that it opens at 11 a.m., but when agents arrived about 11:30 a.m., the “Closed” sign was still up. A handful of people milling around the front of the store spoke to law enforcers after admitting that they were waiting for the shop to open.

A store employee eventually allowed agents to enter. Meanwhile, agents raided a Shell gas station and convenience store in Wagoner.

Kuester said the raids were part of an “ongoing criminal investigation.”

“This is just a step,” he said. “It’s not just packing this stuff and putting it up and we’re done. Just because no arrests were made today doesn’t mean one won’t be coming eventually.”

Kuester said some stores can be extremely profitable — prices can reach $35 for a small bag of K2, a synthetic marijuana.

“I’ve heard of there being lines up to 200 deep at one of these stores,” he said. “Hundreds of people just waiting to get this stuff.”

Kuester said many times, people will claim to buy the synthetic marijuana — marketed as herbal incense — to make their homes smell nice.  

“You can buy 25-cent potpourri at the same store if that’s what you’re looking for,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I’d have to have a lot of disposable income to be spending that much on something just to smell good.”

Kuester said synthetic marijuana developers are constantly looking for ways to stay ahead of the law. There are 132 illegal compounds right now, he said.

“Every time one particular compound is made illegal, they change it just enough to where it’s not on the illegal list,” he said. “Our legislators are working hard to give us the ability to go and stop the sale of these items, and that’s what today was.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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