D.C. police have announced they have made a synthetic drug bust amounting to more than 260 pounds. This is the largest quantity of this kind that officers have seized throughout the city’s history.
According to law enforcement officials and prosecutors, the synthetic drugs have a street value of approximately $2.3 million and had been destined for sale throughout the nation’s capital. There were 19,247 small packets of strawberry-flavored “Bizarro”, a synthetic type of marijuana that is highly dangerous. The total weight of the drugs was at around 265 pounds.
“This is a massive and unprecedented seizure”, declared Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham.
The drug bust operation was a joint effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maryland State Police and Homeland Security. It has been established that the drugs reached Washington D.C. from the West Coast.
The accused, 33-year old Siraj Issa, of Northwest Washington, and 41-year old Yenework Abera, of Alexandria, had met with undercover officers at a warehouse in northwest Washington, where the drugs had been delivered. The narcotics had first been discovered by police officers at a shipping company located in Maryland, and were sent to the storage facility later on.
Based on a statement released by the police, the arrested ’were playing a major role in the distribution’. The 2 men will be federally charged with synthetic cannabinoid possession with intent to distribute and they face a maximum sentence of 20 years, if found guilty.
Currently, the two men are being detained following orders by a U.S. Disctrict Court judge, and their preliminary hearing will commence on September 8. According to Joseph Roll Conte, Issa’s lawyer, he is due to plead not guilty. Abera’s legal adviser has not made a comment so far.
It is believed that most synthetic drugs found on the market have actually been manufactured in China. Although they are usually linked with marijuana, their formula is ever-changing and can include other mind-altering substances. They are normally sold in the street or in stores, wrapped in colorful packages with cartoon characters drawn on them.
Sometimes they are mixed with PCP (colloquially known as Angel Dust) and priced at $20 to $40 per pack, costing less than marijuana on occasion. Although they have been around for several years, their popularity has spiked recently.
439 overdoses related to these drugs were recorded by district paramedics in June, approximately 15 per day, which is 8 times the amount from last year’s corresponding month. The ubiquity of synthetic marijuana has also increased the number of violent crimes in the city, because it can make users more agitated and cause psychotic effects such as extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.
Due to these harmful consequences, police have been given the authority to close down shops selling the drug, and identifying dealers has become one of the main priorities.
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