BRIDGEPORT - The Bridgeport and Martins Ferry Party Centers, along with the owner of both locations' residence was raided Friday by the Belmont County Drug Task Force under suspicion of selling synthetic marijuana.
Arrests and officials charges are pending, the severity of which will be determined by the total amount of synthetic marijuana that was obtained.
The charges will be trafficking in synthetic marijuana.
SOME?OF?the items, along with cash, confiscated during a raid by the Belmont County Drug Task Force is shown.
The Drug Task Force seized money, three safes, sales receipts and shipping orders along with all traces of synthetic marijuana found at all three locations.
"It sickens me, even after receiving a letter from the Belmont County prosecutor asking for businesses to quit selling the synthetic marijuana," Martins Ferry Police Chief and DTF Commander John McFarland said.
"It is getting into the hands of kids. That these businesses continue to do this is beyond me. But hopefully, this is the end of it."
All businesses in the county recently received a hand-delivered letter, asking the owners to stop selling this product.
McFarland also wanted to thank all the departments that contributed to these bust, which includes Bridgeport Police Department, Belmont County Sheriff, Martins Ferry Police Department, Shadyside Police Department and Barnesville Police Department.
A few weeks ago in March, the Shadyside Party Center, Bob's Cheap Smokes, the Trading Post in Bridgeport and the home of Debbie DeAngelis (Trading Post owner) were raided for the same reason.
"The Drug Task Force has faced a new front in their battle against illegal drugs and that new front is synthetic marijuana," said Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter at a press conference following the first round of raids. "This is a recent phenomena that our county has faced and in looking at how our county addressed it, you're looking at a group effort with law enforcement from the attorney general office to the Drug Task Force to the sheriff's department as well as other law enforcement agencies of Belmont County assisted."
The K-2, which is marketed as a legal product, contains dangerous and banned substances. Law enforcement agencies have seen a rise in crime that has been directly linked to the consumption of this product.
There has also been severe addiction and medical issues as a result of using K-2.
"To attack the problem head on, local businesses were notified that these products are, in fact, illegal and we asked them to immediately stop the sale of these products and to immediately remove them from their stores," said Berhalter. "And as much as we excepted, most of the businesses upon being notified of this did just that, remove these poisons from their shelves."
McFarland had warned at that press conference that if any business continued to sell the synthetic product, they would be dealt with in a similar fashion.
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