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Drug raid: Authorities say Operation Up in Smoke nets thousands of banned substances

October 3rd, 2013 9:09 pm by Stephen Igo

Drug raid: Authorities say Operation Up in Smoke nets thousands of banned substances

WISE — Authorities on Thursday released a list of banned synthetic substances, cash and firearms seized during a series of coordinated raids at a variety of locations in Wise County last Friday.

In what officials have described as the largest multijurisdictional raid in decades, dubbed Operation Up In Smoke, several local, state and federal law enforcement agencies struck a number of small business establishments allegedly engaged in selling synthetics commonly known as bath salts and synthetic marijuana/cannabinoids.

Officials said months of investigation preceded last Friday’s execution of seven search warrants and one residence with owner consent. Officers seized thousands of packages of banned substances and tens of thousands of dollars in cash as well as firearms and illegal alcohol, authorities said Thursday.

Locations searched and items seized as itemized by authorities include:

• Get It Gone in the Pound area, resulting in the seizure of 691 packages allegedly containing 2,026 grams of synthetic marijuana valued at $20,260, and $3,347 in cash.

• Cecil’s Variety, Pound, 512 packages allegedly containing 4,321 grams of synthetic marijuana valued at $43,210, eight firearms and $4,445.59 in cash.

• Mountain Traders, Pound, 146 packages allegedly containing 1,268 grams of synthetic marijuana valued at $12,680 and $968 in cash.

• A private residence in Coeburn, 26 packages allegedly containing 104 grams of synthetic marijuana valued at $1,040 and $19,618 in cash.

• Linda’s Place in Coeburn, 3,099 packages allegedly containing 12,334 grams of synthetic marijuana valued at $123,340, $12,245 in cash and five firearms.

• A residence of the owners of Linda’s Place, located in Dickenson County, 2,464 packages allegedly containing 11,207 grams of synthetic marijuana valued at $112,070, and $27,593 in cash.

Authorities also said two locations were searched by federal agencies but no seizures of illicit substances, cash or other items were listed. They were Get It Here in Pound and Smokey’s Smoke Shop in St. Paul.

Agencies participating in Operation Up In Smoke included the state Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC), the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Coeburn Police Department, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Norton Police Department, Southwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force (DTF), the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes expressed his appreciation for all the agencies involved.

“It is nice to see agencies work together for our community and help alleviate a serious public safety concern,” Oakes said.

Prosecutors and investigators expect to present evidence to the Multi-Jurisdictional Grand Jury in the near future, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ron Elkins said. Elkins said he also plans to begin nuisance proceedings against any of the businesses that open again and attempt to sell synthetic drugs under the guise of legal products.

Authorities also asked anyone with knowledge of any business selling synthetic drugs to contact the Wise County Sheriff’s Office or local police department.

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