If you think the synthetic drug problem is getting better, think again. Just last week, a multi-jurisdictional raid on businesses and individuals confiscated hundreds of pounds of synthetic marijuana in Wise County.
An almost two-year investigation led to the raid, but now authorities are now dealing with how to prosecute those involved.
Wise County Sheriff's investigator Russell Cyphers sits and looks at pictures of just some of synthetic drugs confiscated during a raid last Friday, mostly synthetic marijuana. "When you're talking almost 100 to 200 pounds of product and you're selling it in gram increments, that's a lot of product," Cyphers said. Looking at a picture of all the of cash also taken during the raid, that's also a lot of profit.
It's a relatively new issue for the county. "The problem we have a lot of times is we're dealing with a new product that's been introduced to our communities, and the legislation sometimes doesn't match up when trying to combat the problem," He says.
It's an issue Tennessee dealt with during its January legislative session, tweaking a law already on the books to help with prosecution. "The Commonwealth Attorney's office are fantastic to work with, but they deal with a lot of issues legislatively. They have to figure out how to prosecute these cases. It's a battle at times," Cyphers said.
The manufacturers of the product are well aware of each state's laws and try to stay one step ahead. "Sometimes the chemical makeup of these drugs changes. The manufacturers will change it just enough to get ahead of the legislation and cause us issues," the investigator says.
But for now, the county is happy to get what was out there off the shelves.
No charges have been placed yet. The cases are now in the hands of the county's Commonwealth Attorney's office.