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DEA announces major synthetic drug crackdown including Colo. arrests

DENVER — Drug Enforcement Administration agents made hundreds of arrests across the nation Wednesday as part of an investigation into synthetic drugs. Several arrests happened in Colorado.

The number of Colorado arrests will be announced during a news conference at 2 p.m., said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Walsh.  KDVR.com will livestream the news conference.

DEA spokesman James Gothe said arrests were made in Denver and Douglas counties.

The arrests were made in connection with the production of synthetic drugs often called Spice.  The drugs are a synthetic canabonoid that is sprayed with vegetable oil on paper and wrapped in foil. It’s most commonly sold at gas stations and corner stores.

Health experts blame the drugs, which are sold under the names K2, Black Mamba, Crazy Monkey and a host of other names, on three deaths and more than 150 people being treated in Denver area emergency rooms.

The DEA said is made arrests in 25 states. Agents served warrants at homes, warehouses and smoke shops.

Last year the agency launched a campaign to crack down on synthetic drugs after they gained popularity among young people.

Ferdinand Large, staff coordinator for DEA’s Special Operations Division, said the agency is now broadly focused on Chinese chemical manufacturers and the distributors, wholesalers and retailers in the United States.

FOX31 investigation found loophole allowing Spice to be sold legally

In September, a FOX31 Denver investigation discovered a loophole in Colorado law which allows the illegal drug Spice to be sold here legally.

A 2011 Colorado law is supposed to make Spice illegal in the state, but FOX31 Denver’s Investigative team found state statute does not stop stores from selling it nor kids from smoking it with devastating consequences.

Our Investigative team went undercover and bought Spice from mini-marts in both Denver and Aurora.  The so called synthetic marijuana is really a chemical concoction often made in China and packaged as incense or potpourri.

The label says “Not for human consumption” but that does not keep teenagers too young to buy alcohol or medical marijuana, from trying it.

The Colorado Attorney General has also filed a lawsuit against a Longmont store for selling Spice. State officials confiscated about 1,000 containers of Spice and the owner was arrested, said AG spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler.