Major Tom Feeney made a fervent plead to parents, neighbors, clergy and community members to help law enforcement rid store shelves of dangerous synthetic marijuana, sold in brightly colored packages aimed toward youth.
"I can tell you, it takes a village. Law enforcement can't do it by themselves," Feeney said. "We need neighbors, we need clergy, to get the word out as soon as possible."
Feeney made his remarks Dec. 7, at a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office press conference concerning "Operation All Smoked Up." He was standing besides tables loaded with confiscated synthetic marijuana, commonly known as "K2" and "Spice."
- The Hillsborough County Commissioners at a public hearing Feb. 20 were to discuss a new county law concerning the crackdown on synthetic drugs. See County To Consider Synthetic Drug Law.
"Children are going to get more and more attracted to this, just by virtue of what you see on these pacakages, and they're going to suffer the consequences," Feeney said. "The consequences are dire. It's just that simple."
What makes the sale of "K2" and "Spice" particularly aggregious is that it is marketed toward young people, Larry McKinnon, a spokesperson with the sheriff's office, said in an interview at the press conference. He pointed out packages in particular that bore the colorful depictions of cartoon characters Scooby-Doo and Bart Simpson.
- See What Does 'K2' and 'Spice' Packaging Look Like?
Letters were sent in March, deputies paid visits in April, and still store managers, owners and clerks ignored repeated pleas from the sheriff's office to rid store shelves of synthetic marijuana. The raids Dec. 7 netted about a half-million dollars worth of synthetic marijuana.
"They call it a synthetic marijuana," Feeney said at the press conference, noting the enforcement work of the sheriff's office's special investigations unit and the Florida Burea of Alcoho, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. But "it's no different than cocaine, it's no different than heroin, it no different than PCP," he added. "If you ask me, after 33 years [in the business], with nearly 25 in drug enforcement, it's a designer drug."