CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced on Friday that undercover busts last week led to the confiscation of almost 3,000 packages of synthetic marijuana worth more than $58,000 from retail establishments.
The busts, which were part of Madigan's ongoing "Operation Smoked Out," occurred in six different retail locations. In Centralia, there were busts that included 456 packages relinquished from Speed Express, 59 packages relinquished from Centralia Liquors, 19 packages relinquished from Lincoln Liquors and 1,492 packages relinquished from Bargain Alley. In Pinckneyville, the busts included 113 packages relinquished from Handi Mart and 780 packages relinquished from T.J. Liquors.
"The rising use of synthetic drugs among teens and young adults is alarming," Madigan said. "My office is working all across the state with local police, sheriff departments and prosecutors to keep these potentially deadly drugs out of stores."
In Centralia, police officers joined members of Madigan's office on Thursday to perform sweeps in retail stores and confiscated 2,026 packages worth a street value of $42,459.
In Pinckneyville, police and the attorney general's staff confiscated 893 packages from two locations worth a street value of $16,009.
The undercover busts last week followed sweeps that occurred late last year at retailers in Vermilion, Bond and Adams counties, where close to 2,000 packages of synthetics were confiscated. The operation has removed approximately 4,900 packages of Schedule 1 substances from store shelves with an estimated street value of more than $100,000.
In November, Madigan held the first-ever statewide emergency summit to improve awareness among local, county and state law enforcement officers, in addition to parents, health care professionals and educators, of synthetic drug use.
Synthetic drug abuse has increased in the last few years, Madigan says. Poison Control Centers across the country have noted a major increase in calls about synthetic marijuana and bath salts. Bath salts represent another type of synthetic drug that contains chemical compounds that mimic the effects of methamphetamine and cocaine.