April 1, 2020  Last Update: November 12, 2019, 4:01 pm

DEA Targets Head Shops and Suppliers in National Crackdown

The DEA delivers a big message to head shops: we don’t like you in our communities, and we see the synthetic drug industry as a major threat. Bath Salts, synthetic marijuana… it’s all illegal, according to the Feds.

The results are in: Operation Log Jam successfully seized more than 5 million packets of synthetic designer drugs, enough raw supplies to make another 14 million packets of the same stuff, 53 weapons, and $42 million in cash and other assets all in one day. And that’s just the goods.

90 people were arrested, and can expect to spend up to 20 years in federal prison for aiding in the production and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids (eg. Spice, K2) and/or synthetic cathinones (eg. “bath salts”).

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) teamed together for this first-ever nationwide law enforcement strike specifically targeting designer synthetic drugs. It was deemed a “national takedown”, as raids spread across 265 separate locations in 90 cities and 30 states.

Of the 5 million packets of synthetic designer drugs seized, about 4.8 million were synthetic cannabinoids and 167,000 were synthetic cathinones. In addition to the already packaged products, there were enough raw materials seized to produce another 13.6 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids and 392,000 packets of synthetic cathinones. That’s 19 million packets prevented from seeing the shelves of local head shops and gas stations.

167,000 packets of bath salts (synthetic cathinones) is enough to pollute more than 350,000 individuals for a day. That’s 350,000 jacked-up, drugged individuals on the streets of our communities.
4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids (synthetic pot, like "Spice") is enough to maintain 4.8 million casual drug users, or 3 million tragic drug traumas when things go wrong. There’s no telling how many addictions are started or maintained, or lives wrecked.

“We’re seeing the synthetic drug industry as an emerging threat,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart in a press conference today. It was the outpour of sheriffs and local police that caused the DEA to prioritize the dismantlement of organizations responsible for synthetic designer drugs.

Leonhart called much of the manufacturing a “hodepodge” production ring, with the renting of warehouses, use of basements, and other jankie set-ups.

A “disturbing figure” revealed from the take down was that one kilo of synthetic cannabinoids is worth $750,000 in retail.

DEA estimates that 1 kilo of synthetic cannabinoids is worth $750,000 retail

Producers use marketing schemes to attract young people at smoke shops, which has impacted the small, local communities most. “We need to educate the public, especially the young people about the dangers,” explained a concerned Leonhart.

Leonhart assured the crowd that they were “getting help from partners on the hill” for increased control, “especially bath salts.”


  1. […] the summer of 2012, DEA and other Federal agencies raided head shops around the country in a crackdown on synthetic drug…“. That effort included 90 arrests, and was intended to break the supply chain for the drugs […]

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