Local businesses 'raided' as part of synthetic drug crackdown

Special to The Log

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, with support from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Niceville Police Department and the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco conducted four simultaneous search warrant raids on specialty shops around Okaloosa County that are selling controlled substances commonly known as “Spice” and “bath salts” as part of their business practice.

A fifth search warrant was executed at the home of store owner Patrick Anderson of Bluewater Bay. In addition, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office conducted a similar raid on a business there.

To watch a video of the raids in Mary Esther and Fort Walton Beach, CLICK HERE.

Law enforcement officers have purchased substances from the businesses that have been confirmed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as being controlled substances, or analogs of controlled substances as defined in Florida State Statute 893.0356.

Okaloosa County, the State of Florida, and the United States are plagued with specialty shops and internet sites that are selling synthetic cannabinoids, which are designed to mimic tetrahydrocannabinol/THC (THC the primary psychotropic chemical found in marijuana) and synthetic cathinones, which are designed to mimic cocaine, methamphetamine and other controlled stimulants.

In some instances these untested and uncontrolled substances are 500 to 2000 times stronger than the actual illicit substance. Some people that are buying these substances and ingesting them believe that they are legal and safe. However medical professionals are advising otherwise.

Law enforcement officers seized bath salts and Spice products, along with drug-related paraphernalia, cash, and documents.

Arrests are pending.

A similar raid in March of this year targeted ten Okaloosa County stores, including two of the same stores searched today: Woodstock in Niceville and Haight Ashbury in Destin.

Search warrants were executed at these locations Friday:

Woodstock: 311 Government Avenue, Valparaiso; Haight Ashbury, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Destin; Woodstock, 329 Mary Esther Boulevard, Mary Esther; Woodstock, 118 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach; Home of Business Owner Patrick Anderson 615 Birkdale Circle, Niceville.