Stoners weep: St. Clair County raids 13 stores seeking synthetic pot
Thirteen businesses in St. Clair County were targeted Tuesday morning as part of an effort to get synthetic drugs off the shelves of Illinois retailers.
"There is nothing recreational about these insidious drugs," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly. "They are dangerous and deadly, and responsible retailers have no business keeping them on their shelves. If they won't remove them, we will."
The St. County Sheriff's Department said search warrants were issued for the following stores: Crown Food Mart, 306 River Park Drive, East St. Louis; Crown Food Mart, 8301 State St., East St. Louis; Crown Food Mart, 348 Collinsville Road, East St. Louis; Stop-N-Go Liquor, 8700 Collinsville Road, Collinsville; Cheap Cigarettes, 314 Sherman Ave., Belleville; Belleville Food Mart, 1424 Centreville Ave., Belleville; Town & Country Liquor, 1153 Centreville Ave., Belleville; Belleville West Discount Cigarettes, 6007 W. Main St., Belleville; Dupo Fuel Mart ZX, 511 Falling Springs Road, Dupo; Sunshine Daydream, 4618 N. Illinois St., Fairview Heights;
Cahokia Liquor, 527 Illinois 3, Cahokia; Mobil Gas Station, 9221 Beller Drive, Mascoutah; and Max's One Stop, 1319 N. 17th St., Swansea.
Officers at Sunshine Daydream brought out several boxes of merchandise containing packages of the synthetic marijuana as well as several computers. They loaded them into police vehicles.
A Sunshine Daydream employee who didn't want to be identified said no one from the store wanted to comment about the raid.
The business was closed during the search, but expected to reopen later Tuesday.
Employees at the Belleville stores and the Swansea store declined to comment about the raid.
Search warrants were executed by the St. Clair County Drug Tactical Unit, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Marshals, Belleville Police, Cahokia Police, Mascoutah Police, Fairview Heights Police and the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois.
Synthetic drug use has become a significant problem across the state and the county. Several deaths in Illinois likely related to the use of synthetic drugs have occurred in the past few months, Kelly said.
The product is not regulated and the process of mixing and making the synthetic substance can be uncontrolled and unpredictable.
Illinois has outlawed specific formulas of synthetic drugs but manufacturers have gotten around the laws by replacing the banned chemicals with new formulas. An Illinois law that went into effect Jan. 1 bans all chemicals that are structural derivatives of the previously-banned chemicals.
There's no immediate word on any arrests, though similar raids recently across Illinois produced no charges as long as retailers agreed not to sell the drugs again.
The synthetic drugs are chemicals coating plant materials to imitate marijuana, or mixed with powders to mimic cocaine or methamphetamine.
Illinois and other states have responded to synthetic drugs by banning specific formulas of the synthetic marijuana and so-called bath salts. Attorney General Lisa Madigan is pursuing legislation to clarify their status and significantly increase penalties.
In 2010, poison control centers received 2,915 calls related to synthetic marijuana nationwide. By 2011, the centers reported 6,890 calls nationwide about the drug.
The AP contributed information to this story.
© 2011 Belleville News-Democrat and news service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.bnd.com