TAMPA - It took a careful hand and protective gear to haul it all away.
DEA agents and Hillsborough deputies, dressed in protective gear, carried out boxes and bags full of dangerous chemicals from three Tampa warehouses Wednesday afternoon. Workers from neighboring businesses watched in disbelief.
"You never know what people are doing right beside you, so you got to be careful," said Natalie Powell.
Agents believe what they seized in Tampa amounts to millions of dollars worth of synthetic drugs. They also found boxes full of packaging and wrappers that show how the substance would eventually be bundled and sold.
"It's thousands and thousands of pounds of the product here," said Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee. "We believe we're going to have large sums of currency as well."
These products are called "Spice" or "K2," but there are many other names for the products sold in retails stores as incense or potpourri.
In Hillsborough County, agents also seized drums of 200-proof ethyl alcohol and scores of bottles of acetone used in the making of these products.
Search warrants were served at the following locations:
Wild Incense Distribution Warehouse at 4401 East 10th Ave. in Tampa; Wild Incense Manufacturing Facility at 4101 East 12th Ave. in Tampa; Stop Smoke Shop at 10821 North 56th Street in Tampa, a private residence at 15708 Gulf Blvd. in Redington Beach; Jonny Clearwater Manufacturing at 10134 Fisher Ave., Suite A-2 in Brandon and a warehouse at 6308 Benjamin Road Suite #710 in Tampa.
At one production facility in eastern Hillsborough County a worker had a tattoo on his arm that he said showed the chemical equation of "photosynthesis," authorities said.
The DEA and other law enforcement agencies are raiding smoke shops and other sellers of synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs, such as "bath salts," in about 100 cities nationwide.
Earlier this month President Barack Obama signed a bill that bans the sale, production and possession of many of the chemicals found in some of the most popular synthetic drugs.
Drug agents and health professional have been warning that these new designer drugs, including synthetic marijuana products sold as incense and "bath salts," which can mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, haven't been tested or approved for human consumption. The drugs have been blamed for deaths around the country.
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