Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater police warn convenience stores not to sell synthetic drugs

CLEARWATER — The Clearwater Police Department has begun a crackdown on controversial brands of synthetic drugs sold at convenience stores and gas stations — part of a statewide effort to ban the substances, which authorities say have caused violent outbursts and death among users.

In a letter mailed to store owners, Clearwater police Chief Tony Holloway offered "the recommendation that 'Bath Salts,' 'Loose Leaf Incense,' 'K2,' 'Spice,' or similar products which contain the prohibited chemicals be removed from your establishments and disposed of."

Clearwater Public Safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said eight stores in Clearwater received the letter. Police will tell other shops to ditch the synthetic products if they hear of additional outlets selling it, she said.

"The letters serve to inform and warn the businesses of the law and what is legal and not," Watts said. "If the suspected activity continues and is confirmed, we would forward charges to the state attorney. The products would have to be tested to confirm the banned chemicals are in fact present."

Clearwater's efforts are part of a broader campaign that comes in response to a growing public health and safety crisis. In July, when an expanded state ban on synthetic drugs went into effect, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office also issued notices to the stores — typically small, independent convenience markets — urging them to rid their shelves of the products.

Prior to the state legislation, many of the drugs were legal and marketed as incense or potpourri. The drug manufacturers have stayed a step ahead of authorities by constantly changing their formulas to evade bans on specific chemical compounds.

At the same time, evidence of the substances' harmful effects — including hallucinations, seizures, kidney failure and panic attacks — has mounted. In one high-profile incident in January, a Clearwater teen who police said had smoked "Jazz" drowned.

Behind the counter at the Food Mart at 1208 N Fort Harrison Ave. on Thursday, Dhargam Ateia said the store had received the warning letter from Clearwater police. Ateia said his father owns the shop. He pointed to the glass display case where, until recently, he said the targeted substances were sold.

"I used to have it right here," he said.

However, Ateia said he and his father removed the products when they learned they were illegal. He said he had not known they were used to get high.

"It was just something I was selling," he said.

Peter Jamison can be reached at pjamison@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4157.

Clearwater police warn convenience stores not to sell synthetic drugs 10/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays relishing surprise status

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays on Friday played their first post-All-Star Game contest at Tropicana Field while holding a playoff spot since Sept. 23, 2013.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.