The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation yesterday served dozens of individuals in Rutherford County with charges stemming from “Operation Synful Smoke” which began as undercover buys of synthetic drugs being sold at area convenience stores and markets earlier this year that resulted in thousands of packets of synthetic drugs being seized during the execution of multiple search warrants.
The 89 misdemeanor complaints were served on 40 individuals, primarily store owners, on charges ranging from possession of synthetic cannabinoids to possession with the intent to sell synthetic methcathinones. Those charged will be cited in General Sessions Court in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on December 20, 2011 to answer the charges. TBI, along with several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies executed search warrants on 36 Rutherford County stores in September seizing 23,000 total units of synthetic cannabinoids and methcathinone along with $44,500 cash and numerous articles of drug paraphernalia. The search warrants were obtained after numerous undercover purchases of illegal synthetic drugs were made between June and August 2011.
The drugs purchased were synthetic cannabinoids known by several names including “Herbal Incense” or “Potpourri” and synthetic methcathinone known as “Bath Salts” or “Plant Food.” The Public Chapter regarding synthetic cannabinoids, PC 274, went into effect July 1, 2011 and synthetic methcathinone, PC 169, on May 5, 2011. Synthetic cannabinoids are dried plant materials treated with chemicals sold under various brand names such as 7H, K2, Diablo, Exotica or Spice. Abusers smoke the product to experience effects similar to those induced by marijuana. Synthethic methcathinone is a central nervous system stimulant similar to a Schedule I Controlled Substance sold in powder, liquid and crystal forms as plant food, insect repellant, pond cleaner and vacuum freshener. Abusers typically ingest, inhale, inject or smoke the product to experience an effect similar to amphetamines. The synthetic drugs can cause severe physical and psychological reactions and even death.
The 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested the TBI launch the investigation in conjunction with the Law Enforcement and Special Prosecutions Division of the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. Additional information may be presented to the Rutherford County Grand Jury in the future as the investigation continues.