NC Bust Shows that Rooting Out "Spice" Trade is a Rough Row to Hoe

North Carolina outlawed synthetic marijuana on June 1, 2011. But like kudzu, this man-made “weed” is hard to kill.

Amazingly hard, actually – as this story of a sting operation on the EZ Tobacco Shop in Thomasville, N.C., illustrates.

Law enforcement authorities hit the store earlier this month, according to reports from news media including The Lexington Dispatch, the Thomasville Times, and The High Point Enterprise.  Officers arrested a 27-year-old woman, charged her with multiple drug crimes, and shut down the place.

 

Photos/Thomasville Police Department

Synthetic marijuana seized from the EZ Tobacco Shop in Thomasville, N.C.

 

The total haul from the entire investigation:

  • 1,000 grams of synthetic marijuana, often called “spice,” “K2,” “Kush,” “Cush” or other names
  • Hundreds of smoking devices and other drug paraphernalia
  • Prescription medications: oxycodone and hydrocodone
  • Large quantities of cash

The multi-jurisdictional sting operation that eventually brought down the EZ Tobacco Shop kicked off on October 17, 2011.

Seeds of suspicion had already been planted by numerous complaints from parents and concerned citizens to the Thomasville Police Department about the store (eventually totaling about 25 calls to Crime Stoppers, one officer said).  Working undercover, TPD detectives and N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement agents then bought synthetic marijuana from a woman at the store, whom reports alternately refer to as either the manager, a clerk, or the manager and clerk.

Detectives from both agencies moved in and searched the store. That was when they seized the 1,000 grams of spice and drug paraphernalia.  The spice was then sent to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.  The police waited, while the complaint line kept ringing at Crime Stoppers and the cash register kept ringing at EZ Tobacco Shop.

Confirmation on the illegal substance came back the first week of August 2012.  Detectives again made undercover spice buys, executed another search warrant, seized more spice along with the pills and cash, and arrested Jamie Lynn Baker, the manager/clerk.

Jamie Lynn Baker

The charges against Baker, of 307 Liberty Ave., are:

  • felony possession of a synthetic cannabinoid
  • delivering a synthetic cannabinoid
  • two counts of trafficking a synthetic cannabinoid
  • one count of selling a synthetic cannabinoid
  • possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance
  • maintaining a dwelling for the sale of a controlled substance.

Baker was issued a $25,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 26.  The investigation is continuing.

“We charged the clerk, and we do not know who the owner is at this time,” one officer said.  “Right now, we do not know who or if anyone else is involved.  We are trying to get down to the bottom of the situation.”

I’ve written before about the dangers of synthetic drugs: man-made substances that induce the effects of marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, or other drugs.  On top of the fact the drugs are illegal, the side effects are almost unspeakably horrible.

It takes a lot of time, work and expense to stop the trafficking of these drugs – while sales continue and potential tragedy looms.

It looks like the cops took all the right steps and sewed things up tight.  As for taking more than nine months to get lab results, that’s likely a result of the SBI budget, and I wouldn’t think its coffers are exactly overflowing lately.  Other drug sweeps have been mounted against small outlets like this one, and are probably ongoing.  When a police department requests a substance ID from the Crime Lab – well, get in line.

But this operation finally did mean the end of the line for the drugs seized at one location in central North Carolina.

 

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