Cops pull $9,600 of K2 from store

Galesburg law enforcement seized more than 300 packages of synthetic drugs Thursday as part of “Operation Smoked Out.”

Investigators from the Galesburg Police Department and Illinois Attorney General’s office found 324 packages, totaling $9,600, at Main Street Tobacco and Games, 914 E. Main St. The illegal synthetic drugs included bath salts, which testified positive for methamphetamine.

“We take a proactive approach to drug enforcement in Galesburg,” said Sgt. Bob Schwartz. “Our success is helped by the interagency cooperation displayed by the Attorney General’s office.”

Local authorities had “keyed in on” the business and asked to inspect its inventory, said Scott Mulford, Illinois Attorney General deputy press secretary. Inside, they found the synthetic drugs, commonly referred to as K2, spice or fake weed.

“There’s two main things: get them off the shelves. They are almost like magnets to kids,” he said. “Number two, it’s education. These retailers have basically been warned to not put it on the shelf.”

Officials said they have seen an increase in calls nationwide to poison control centers rising from almost 3,000 in 2010 to almost 7,000 in 2011. Calls regarding bath salts jumped from more than 300 in 2010 to more than 6,000 in 2011.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office conducted a workshop in January explaining the dangers of synthetic drugs and how others are trying to sell it as potpourri or incense.

It is created when individuals purchase chemical additives and haphazardly spray it over a plant-like material, said Illinois Attorney General Public Access Counselor Cara Smith at the workshop. There is no a specific list of ingredients or recipe to determine how much to use.

The dangers of it have prompted state legislators to pass a structural derivative law, which became effective Jan. 1. The measure allows attorneys to prosecute those who use drugs that have a similar molecular structure as those on the controlled substance list.

However, it is still difficult to prosecute because officials can not always rely on drug tests. The chemical compound in the drug varies so much there might not be a similar one on the controlled substance list.

“We believe our efforts to rid the state of this problem didn’t end on January 1. Yes, it’s illegal but we aren’t just going to take your word for it,” Smith said at the workshop. “We still believe it’s out there.”