May 9, 2014 10:56:08 AM
At least four people have sought medical treatment in Clay County after they allegedly had a bad reaction to a synthetic marijuana.
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said within the last two weeks, four people have sought treatment at the North Mississippi Medical Center in West Point after taking spice, a synthetic marijuana made of herbs that have been sprayed with chemicals.
Scott said his investigators, the West Point Police Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics are working to determine where the spice was purchased.
The chemicals used to make spice have been classified as a schedule I narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the sale of spice is a felony charge, Scott said.
Spice is also known as K2, fake weed and Yucatan Fire. It may also be labeled as herbal incense.
Scott said he has also had instances where inmates have had spice inside the jail.
"It's a concern for us on the corrections side," he said. "It always creates problems with synthetics because it's a little bit hard to test for it. They're always changing he chemical compound so we don't necessarily know what to test for. It's always a cat and mouse game with us."
Scott compared the chemicals in spice to the same chemicals in methamphetamine.
"It's very dangerous because you never know the actual chemical compound. It's like smoking meth, you're just putting chemicals into your body and you just never know how a person is going to react."
Law enforcement cracking down
Efforts by law enforcement to crack down on Spice have picked up on both state and national levels.
On the Mississippi Coast, the Coast Drug Enforcement Administration, in conjunction with an international investigation called Operation Synergy, made three drug raids Tuesday, Wednesday and into Thursday morning -- two in Jackson County and one in Harrison County, resident agent in charge Daniel Comeaux said.
Authorities recovered more than 100 pounds of synthetic marijuana, about 2 million to 3 million packets meant to hold spice and $250,000 in a bust Tuesday in Ocean Springs. Wednesday, officers recovered more than 100 pounds of spice, four weapons -- including an assault rifle and a stolen weapon -- and U.S. currency in Gulfport, Comeaux said. On Wednesday night into Thursday morning, officers recovered $35,000 in cash, a couple of guns and a small amount of marijuana from a home off Big Ridge Road on Anderson Street in the St. Martin community. One person was taken into custody on a charge of conspiracy to possess a controlled substance and three others are under investigation pending possible indictments. Comeaux said.
That effort was part of a nation-wide sweep conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is trying to stay one step ahead of synthetic drug makers, wholesalers and retailers as it broadens its crackdown on the growing black market product.
DEA agents fanned out across the country Wednesday and made more 150 arrests and served about 200 warrants, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said. The largest single operation was a statewide effort in Alabama, though agents also were active in 28 other states. Authorities also seized more than $20 million in cash and assets, the DEA said.
The Treasury Department also announced the first financial sanctions against people accused of dealing in synthetic drugs. The government formally sanctioned four people it identified as Daniel Maurice Louie, Kevin Kim Louie and Francine Denise Louie -- all of Canada -- and Tramayne Primus from Barbados.
The Associated Press and The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.) contributed to this report.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
1. Lee Middle deal possibly a month away COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. Innovation Challenge gives young entrepreneurs a head start STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
3. Story of Columbus teen on death row airs on Headline News COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. A house to love: The Haven, historic downtown home, passes to new ownership COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Future of Ryan's uncertain COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY