Video Details Hillsborough’s Synthetic Marijuana Problem

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office teamed federal authorities yesterday to crackdown on production and distribution of designer drugs. Two Benjamin Road warehouses were targeted in the joint agency raid.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has released a video of area and several other locations in the county.

The video sheds light on the growing problem posed by synthetic marijuana in Hillsborough and throughout the country. Also known as “Spice” or “K2,” the designer drug uses chemicals that produce effects similar to marijuana. Spice has been linked to a number of health problems and has been known to contribute to increased anxiety, kidney failure and seizures.

“(We’re) trying to eradicate this K2 issue from our jurisdiction, our community,” said Hillsborough County Capt. Kyle Cockream in the video. “We don’t know what the long-term effects are. It needs to come to a stop.”

Yesterday’s raid targeted seven businesses, including warehouses at 6308 Benjamin Road. The sweep was part of a “simultaneous, coast-to-coast,” crackdown on synthetic marijuana, Cockream said.

According to Sheriff David Gee, the raids were the culmination of an investigation that lasted for several months.

The chemical nature of K2 has presented problems for law enforcement in the past. While the state has outlawed many chemicals used in the production of the designer drug, “they (manufacturers) change the formula just a little bit and it makes it very difficult for prosecutors,” Gee said.

Some manufacturers have taken production into their own garages. A recent explosion in Pasco County is thought to be linked to the production of synthetic marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana has become such a big concern Hillsborough is looking into creating its that would make spice production and distribution illegal within the county. Officials discussed the possibility of drafting an ordinance during a recent meeting.

"We have a grave, grave issue in our community that's kind of been kept quiet," said Commissioner Les Miller during the meeting on the proposed ordinance. "It's called synthetic drugs. It is a dangerous, dangerous drug."

With ever-changing formulas, the exact dangers of synthetic marijuana are hard to pinpoint.

“We don’t really know what’s in there, but we know what’s in there is not doing any good to anybody,” Cockream said.

The materials seized in yesterday’s busts will be sent to a lab for identification, the sheriff’s office said.

Other locations targeted in the sweep included:

  • Wild Incense Distribution Warehouse, 4401 E. 10th Ave,, Tampa
  • Wild Incense Manufacturing Facility, 4101 E. 12th Ave, Tampa
  • Private residence, 15708 Gulf Blvd, Redington Beach
  • Jonny Clearwater Manufacturing, 10134 Fisher Ave, Suite A-2, Brandon
  • Stop Smoke Shop, 10821 N. 56th St.

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