Eye On Boise

Big drug raids target 'spice' sellers, marijuana growers in cornfield

Idaho has seen two major drug raids in the last 24 hours, as federal authorities raided 11 locations in Twin Falls County in a crackdown on selling "spice," or synthetic marijuana; and Idaho State Police detectives, along with aerial support, raided 12 marijuana grow sites in a Gooding County cornfield, pulling 3,684 marijuana plants that ISP said have an estimated street value of more than $7 million.

The ISP received an anonymous tip last night, prompting the cornfield raid; they're asking anyone with information to call  a tip hotline at (800) 524-7277.

The spice raids, which were preceded by five indictments for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue, were part of a nationwide spice crackdown and targeted businesses including a Twin Falls auto sales lot, a skate shop, a tattoo and body piercing shop and more. The defendants, if convicted, could face up to 20 years in prison. Click below for a full announcement from Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson; the raid is part of a national push that earlier targeted 13 head shops in the Treasure Valley, in which nine were found to be openly selling spice.

Said Olson, "This week's law enforcement actions should send a strong message that if you're selling spice under any name or packaging you need to stop."

U.S. Department of Justice

United States Attorney

District of Idaho

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ON JULY 26, 2012

 

                       

Five People Indicted by Federal Grand Jury in Idaho on “Spice” Charges

Part of Nationwide Law Enforcement Effort Called “Operation Log Jam”

 

            BOISE – United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that fourteen search warrants were executed yesterday by law enforcement agencies at eleven locations in Twin Falls County, and three locations in Tigard, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.  In addition, five individuals were arrested following their indictment Tuesday on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue.  The warrants were related to a nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of dangerous and deadly drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, “spice,” incense, or plant food, which are prohibited under the federal controlled substance analogue statute.  

            Search warrants were executed at the following Magic Valley locations:


•                     All State Auto Sales, 2135 Kimberly Road, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     All State Auto Sales, 284 Washington Street North, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     Boo Boo’s Skate Shop, 143 4th Avenue West, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     Churchman’s Jewelry, 153 Main Avenue West, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     Dark Side Glass Blowers, 2487 Kimberly Rd., Suite H, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     Fat Ratt Tattoo & Body Piercing, 1440 Blue Lakes Blvd.. North, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     Smoke N’ Head, 287 Washington Street North, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     Ta Ta’s, 221 South Lincoln Suite C, Jerome, Idaho

•                     175 Bellevue Court, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     482 Cypress Way, Twin Falls, Idaho

•                     3295 Longbow, Twin Falls, Idaho

 

            Search warrants were also executed at:

 

•                     A & J Distribution, 15757 Southwest 74th Ave, #590, Tigard, Oregon

•                     15012 South West Summerview Dr., Tigard, Oregon

•                     A & J Distribution, 1321 North East 76th Ave. Suite A, Vancouver, Washington

            Four defendants were arrested in Idaho and one in Oregon.  The five were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Pocatello, Idaho, on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue.   Those arrested were:  Allen W. Nagel, 44, of Twin Falls, Idaho; Stephanie D. Nagel, 38, of Twin Falls; Gary E. Nagel, 45, of Twin Falls; Josh Cserepes, 26, of Twin Falls; and Joshua P. Becker, 32, of Tigard, Oregon.  Becker was arraigned yesterday in federal court in Oregon.  He was detained and ordered to be transported to Idaho for an appearance in federal court in Pocatello on August 1.  The four Twin Falls defendants will be arraigned in federal court in Pocatello tomorrow morning.

            If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, and a minimum three years of supervised release. 

            The execution of the Magic Valley search warrants and federal indictment in Pocatello follow by two months the execution of federal search warrants at 13 Treasure Valley head shops.  According to the Treasure Valley search warrant affidavits, nine of the 13 businesses were openly selling “spice,” a substance that tested positive for AM-2201.  The DEA has determined that AM-2201 is a controlled substance analogue.  Sixteen individuals face federal charges for conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia in connection with the Treasure Valley case.  In Idaho, both investigations are part of Operation Not for Human Consumption.  “Spice,” a synthetic form of cannabis, which is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product that, when consumed, mimics the effects of cannabis.   In the spring of 2011, the Idaho Legislature criminalized the sale of “spice” under state law.  In March of 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration placed five synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.        

            “This week's law enforcement actions should send a strong message that if you're selling spice under any name or packaging you need to stop,” said Olson.  “Federal, state and local law enforcement in Idaho are committed to using all available tools and resources to keep these dangerous synthetic substances out of communities throughout the state.  Although we don't yet know the full toll that these substances that mimic cannabis have taken on users, we do know that emergency room workers, parents and law enforcement officers all have terrifying stories of medically dangerous and sometimes deadly reactions.  In Idaho, we are proud to stand with DEA and our colleagues throughout the nation in taking these strong steps to combat this growing drug problem.”

            “These deadly products were designed for and targeted at our youth,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes.  “This sweeping coast to coast enforcement action is a warning that DEA and its law enforcement partners will continue to seek out those who endanger our communities.”

            “ATF always stands ready to support its state and local partners in serving and protecting communities,” said Kelvin Crenshaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

            The searches and arrests were conducted as part of a nationwide law enforcement effort called “Operation Log Jam,” which targeted every level of the synthetic drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, in more than 80 U.S. cities. 

            The indictment was the result of a joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), led by the Drug Enforcement Administration in conjunction with Twin Falls City Police Department, Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Idaho State Police, Ada County Sheriff's Office, Nampa City Police Department, Meridian City Police Department, Gooding County Sheriff's Office, Cassia County Sheriff's Office, and Minidoka County Sheriff's Office.  Local law enforcement assisted in executing arrest and search warrants in Vancouver, Washington and Tigard, Oregon.

            The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.        

            An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct and is not evidence of guilt.  A person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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