Two Palm Beach County homes were busted as part of a nationwide effort to crack down on the synthetic drug trade.
At one home, authorities dug for hidden money connected to the illegal business. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw warned of a strong chemical odor coming from another home, where law enforcement confiscated massive amounts of the chemicals used to make the drugs.
The busts in Palm Beach County and around the country are focusing on the manufacturers, distributors and sellers of synthetic marijuana and bath salts.
Federal authorities held a news conference Thursday where they touted their first coordinated crackdown specifically targeting the designer synthetic drugs.
“As far as the federal laws, the person trafficking in these synthetic drugs can expect to get up to 20 years in prison,” DEA administrator Michele Leonhart said.
Government statistics showed a huge spike in emergency calls connected to synthetic drugs and bath salts. In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to the substances. In 2011, that number more than quadrupled. About 60 percent of the cases involved patients 25 and younger.
“These drugs are dangerous and they are illegal,” said James Chaparro of the Department of Homeland Security. “If you are involved in the manufacture, importation, distribution or sale of these illicit chemicals, we will come after you.”