ODESSA — A father and son are facing federal charges for allegedly making and selling synthetic drugs — commonly known as Spice and bath salts — after authorities recently raided their business, Bodies of Nature.
"It's absolutely shocking what we found in there," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a press conference Thursday.
From an innocuous office suite at 2613 Merchant Ave. inside the West Pasco Industrial Park off of State Road 54 in Odessa, Bradley Bostwick, 58, and his son Garrett Bostwick, 31, were selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of synthetic drugs each month, Nocco said.
The father and son were buying vats of chemicals from China, making the products in Odessa and shipping them to stores nationwide, Nocco said.
"The quantity coming out of there was incredible," he said.
Detectives found more than 1 ton of materials for synthetic marijuana and bath salts — drugs that are marketed as incense or plant food and labeled that they are not intended for human consumption, but are widely used as a narcotic, especially by teenagers, authorities said.
"They were basically drug dealers," Nocco said of the Bostwicks, both of Land O'Lakes.
Synthetic marijuana is a misnomer because, although it might look similar to marijuana and can be smoked or eaten, the drugs give the user a delusional, paranoid high which, in some cases, has led to violence and deadly overdoses, authorities say.
Policing the drugs has been problematic: The products are legally sold at some convenience stores until lawmakers ban a key ingredient.
Then the people making the product tweak their chemical compounds to try to stay ahead of the ban.
But the bans extend to any similar chemicals, called analogs, that produce the same effect.
The ingredients used by the Bostwicks were banned, authorities said, making their enterprise illegal.
"They believed they were skirting the law," Nocco said.
Their business was raided June 7, but the announcement of the raid was delayed because it was part of a national investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Nocco said. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office began investigating the business in 2011 and then got a call from investigators in South Dakota, who had traced products sold in a shop there to the Bostwicks' business, authorities said. The Sheriff's Office worked the case with the DEA and South Dakota law enforcement agencies.
The Bostwicks, along with two of their associates — Charlie Caulder, 49, of Georgia, and Jason Lawrence, 39, of Land O'Lakes — face federal charges in South Dakota of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analog. William C. Daniels, the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Middle District of Florida, said there are no indictments pending against the group in this jurisdiction.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota said all of the suspects have been released pending a trial. A trial date has not been set.
Garrett Bostwick, the son, faces additional charges in Pasco for drugs allegedly found when deputies searched his home in June: cocaine, marijuana, controlled substances and methamphetamines, as well as drug paraphernalia. This was his first arrest in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. His father, Bradley Bostwick, has never been arrested in Florida, according to FDLE. They could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.