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DeWine taking action against synthetic drug crimes

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(Toledo News Now) -

On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that state and local law enforcement served five search warrants in three counties across the state, as part of an intensified effort to stop the sale of synthetic drugs.

The warrants, served in Clark, Montgomery, and Guernsey counties, came as a result of a series of investigations that uncovered synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana or herbal incense, being sold in three Ohio stores. The investigation included a dozen law enforcement agencies, led by the Clark County Sheriff's Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

DeWine has made eliminating synthetic drugs a priority and sent a warning letter to retailers in November advising them of the risks if continuing to sell synthetic drugs.

"We gave business owners fair warning that if we found synthetic drugs in their stores, that there would be consequences, and now we are following through with that promise," said DeWine.

Local authorities, along with agents from the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation, served a search warrant at the Clark County business Quality Food Market in New Carlisle and at the Montgomery County home of the store's owner. The owner was arrested and charged with three felony counts of Trafficking in a Controlled Substance.

Warrants in two separate cases were also served in Guernsey County at Bubby's Drive Thru in Byesville and at Party Time Carryout and its owner's home, both in Cambridge. 

"Some of the drugs found in these investigations came in packaging designed with superhero images, which demonstrates that these drugs are being marketed toward our children," said DeWine. "We need to do everything we can to protect our families, and that is why we decided to take this action one step further and file civil lawsuits against those involved."

The lawsuits, filed against the three businesses by those with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section, allege that the defendants engaged in unfair, deceptive, and unconscionable acts by selling illegal drugs as legal products. 

Attorneys also filed nuisance abatements against the businesses, requesting that the stores be closed for one year. 

Those with the Attorney General's Special Prosecutions Unit, and the RANGE Taskforce, Clark County Sheriff's Office, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Guernsey County Sheriff's Office, Clark County Prosecutor's Office, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Guernsey County Prosecutor's Office, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Columbus Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Drug Enforcement Administration participated in the investigations.

A synthetic drug provision to House Bill 334 also directly impacted investigations. The provision, which went into effect in December, strengthened the ban on synthetic drugs.

Additional synthetic drug investigations are currently ongoing throughout the state.

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