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Tip from parent results in business busted for selling ‘spice’

Posted: September 6, 2012 12:12 p.m.
Updated: September 6, 2012 12:12 p.m.

A parent moved by a public forum about heroin in the Santa Clarita Valley sparked an undercover drug operation with a tip that led to at least one arrest and a seizure of illegal drugs, a Sheriff’s Department official said Thursday.

Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Juvenile Intervention Team, or “J-Team,” and its Crime Prevention Unit carried out the undercover operation Wednesday, checking local businesses to ensure they’re obeying state laws regarding illegal substances, officials said.

Four locations were targeted by the sting team. Three did not have any illegal products or violations, according to deputies.

But one retailer was caught selling the illegal drug known as “spice” and arrested, his products seized.

“As a result of the undercover operation, an individual was arrested,” said Capt. Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

The retail operator was released on a promise to appear in court. The name of the business was not released.

The sting operation was conducted following a tip from a concerned mother that some local retailers may have been selling the illegal drugs nicknamed “bath salts” and “spice” to children and adults in the community.

“After we did the ‘Heroin Kills’ (meeting), we received a Crimestoppers tip regarding a store selling illegal drugs,” Becker said Thursday.

“So we sent an undercover team to the store and we purchased spice and illegal drugs.”

Spice, also known as synthetic cannabis, is a psychoactive designer drug made from natural herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals. When this substance is ingested, it can have the same effect as other illegal drugs.

The term “bath salts” is another name for a family of illegal designer drugs containing multiple chemicals that can cause the same effects as an amphetamine or cocaine. The white crystals resemble legal bathing products, such as Epsom salts. Chemically, the two have no other similarity, deputies said.

California Health and Safety Code Section 11357.5 makes it illegal for any person to sell, dispense, distribute, offer to sell, or possess for sale any synthetic cannabinoid compound, or any synthetic cannabinoid derivative. This misdemeanor crime is punishable by imprisonment in county jail.

“The good thing about this is that the tip originated from the community,” Becker said. “That’s why put these meetings together.”

On Aug. 30, hundreds turned out for the “Heroin Kills: One Year Later” symposium, which city officials had hoped would be a sobering event for parents and children.

The event was part of a one-year retrospective by the city on its effort to combat heroin abuse. And by most measures, there’s still a lot of work to be done, officials said.

When dealing with illegal items such as narcotics, sometimes residents wish to remain anonymous when reporting criminal acts such as narcotic sales. Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous may call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477) or texting the letters TIPLA plus the tip to CRIMES (274637).




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