The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to stay one step ahead of synthetic drug makers, wholesalers and retailers, cracking down on the growing black market, reports the Associated Press. Agents fanned out yesterday, making 150 arrests and serving 200 warrants. The largest single operation was a statewide effort in Alabama. Agents were active in 28 other states. Authorities seized $20 million in cash and assets. The Treasury Department announced the first financial sanctions against people accused of dealing in synthetic drugs.
DEA has been cracking down on synthetic drugs, including Spice, Molly and so-called bath salts, since the drugs first gained widespread popularity years ago. In 2010, the agency moved to ban five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana blends, including K2, Spice and Blaze. Since then, drug manufacturers have continued to modify their formulas and develop new chemical mixtures. Every time a new drug is identified by the government, foreign chemists are ready with a slightly modified version often with a new brand name, said DEA’s Ferdinand Large.