West Tennessee Homes and Businesses Raided in Nationwide Operation
JACKSON, Tenn. - Quiet neighborhoods across North Jackson got an early morning wake up call from federal, state and local law enforcement agents who stormed the homes of suspected drug dealers. Similar raids took place at local stores.
Bobby Fullington owns a business next to one that was raided. "I just saw all the policemen over there and everything was all blocked off. No one could get through and nobody could get gas," he said.
500 officers carried out 33 raids across various stores in West Tennessee, 250 of the officers were from Jackson. Of the 33 businesses, nine raided were in Madison County. In all 14 shops across the region were shut down.
U.S Attorney Edward L. Stanton III led the multi-agency drug raid.
"Project Synergy is the largest ever coordinated strike against designer drugs, targeting the manufacturers distributors and retailers of more than 250 synthetic drugs being abused in the United States and globally," Stanton said.
The drugs targeted in the national drug raids were synthetic drugs, also known as Spice, Bath Salts or K2. They are made from natural herbs that are sprayed with chemicals to mimic the effect of hallucinogenic drugs and can be deadly.
Following a nearly two year long investigation, federal state and local law enforcement, hundreds of purchases and seizures of synthetic drugs were made from more than 34 different stores in West Tennessee. During Project Synergy's take down more than 76 search warrants were executed and 35 arrests were made.
In the raids officials say millions of dollars of drugs and weapons were seized with no major problems. Officials say the goal of the raids is to protect teens from these often lethal and highly addictive drugs.
"These synthetic drugs are marketed specifically and targeted specifically to our young people," Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said.
U.S Attorney Stanton says no leniency will be tolerated for those selling any types of drugs.
"Those of you brazen enough to sell this poison, particularly to our children and young adults, you will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," he said.
Officials say the investigation is ongoing. Those affected in today's raids will appear before a judge July 1.