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Three tobacco shops raided by DEA

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Three Sioux Falls tobacco shops raided Wednesday were among the more than 100 targets of a massive, nationwide synthetic drug sweep, federal prosecutors have confirmed.

Local officers assisted the Drug Enforcement Administration with the raids, as agents seized cash, property and product from Roll With It stores at 5213 W. 12th St., 700 S. Minnesota Ave. and 1205 E. Benson Road.

No arrests were made in Sioux Falls, but locals say the move was welcome news in a city where synthetic marijuana has become a drug of choice for young people.

“Frankly, this has been a long time coming,” Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Salter confirmed that the operations at Roll With It were part of “Operation Log Jam,” the DEA’s first sweep for synthetics since the President Obama’s signing of the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 this month.

The Roll With It warrants were among the 265 served in 109 cities and 30 states Wednesday. Salter could not confirm that any charges were forthcoming in the Sioux Falls cases.

The drugs under scrutiny are marketed as bath salts, herbal incense or potpourri and contain synthetic versions of the chemicals found in popular street drugs and labeled as “not for human consumption.” The South Dakota legislature voted to ban families of commonly used chemical ingredients in 2012.

State and federal governments ban new chemicals each year, but slight tweaks to banned chemicals can put them outside or just on the edge of the law’s boundaries.

During a Washington, D.C., news conference Thursday afternoon, DEA head Michele Leonhart said agents around the country led to the arrest of more than 90 people and the seizure of more than 4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids.

“This operation is the first nationwide, coordinated law enforcement strike aimed at synthetic drugs,” Leonhart said during the webcast news conference.

Karin Caito, a spokesperson for the St. Louis division of the DEA, said $1.4 million was seized in the Midwest. Also seized were 115,700 packets of cannabinoids, or synthetic marijuana, and 95,300 packets of cathinones, or bath salts.

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