Fourteen Memphis Smoke Shops Shut Down



Spice (synthetic marijuana)

Wizards, Whatever, the Highland Smoke Shop, and numerous other local smoke shops were shut down as public nuisances this morning, and arrest warrants were issued for employees and owners of multiple shops on various charges relating to the possession and distribution of illegal synthetic drugs, most commonly known as "spice" and "bath salts."

The raids and resulting arrest warrants were part of a nationwide Drug Enforcement Agency crackdown — dubbed "Project Synergy" — on businesses that sell synthetic drugs. The synthetic drugs mimic pot ("spice") and amphetamines ("bath salts").

"The indictments allege an international web of distribution of synthetic drugs," said U.S. Attorney General Edward Stanton.

The two-year investigation involving federal, state, and local law enforcement led to hundreds of purchases and seizures from 34 different stores in West Tennessee, from Memphis to Jackson. The West Tennessee crackdown involved 76 search warrants and 35 arrest warrants. Most of those arrested are charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute, and some were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Most face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count.

The Shelby County District Attorney's Office handled the nuisance closures. Owners of those businesses must appear in Environmental Court on July 1st.

Before "spice" was made illegal in Tennessee, Flyer reporter Bianca Phillips gave it a try. Read about that experience here.

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