Deputies discover ‘Spice House’
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 22, 2013, 16:53
Hancock County Sheriff's officials said Thursday that they have discovered what is believed to be a large synthetic narcotics distribution operation and they are seeking two "persons of interest" who may have information related to the investigation.
Sheriff Ricky Adam said Thursday that his office was contacted Monday by a Diamondhead landlord, who had discovered a plethora of possible synthetic narcotics items in a home he was renting.
"The landlord was in the process of evicting two individuals," Adam said. "When he went to the home on Monday, it appeared that it had been abandoned."
The home is on Diamondhead Drive West, officials said.
Narcotics Commander Jeremy Skinner said the landlord gave deputies authorization to search the property and a number of suspicious items were discovered.
Skinner said "thousands" of empty packaging bags of "One Love Botanical" incense were found, along with shipping labels, scales, chemical extraction precursors, blenders, and other paraphernalia.
Some finished product was also discovered, Skinner said.
"It appears that someone was cooking and/or distributing this stuff from that home," Adam said.
Officials said "One Love" is one of many products which are commonly sold as an incense with the stipulation "not for human consumption." The products are commonly referred to as "Spice," officials said.
Many people buy those types products and smoke them because they mimic the effects of marijuana, Adam said. The products also do not show up on drug tests for marijuana; however, some companies have begun testing for synthetic substances.
In the past few years, Spice products have become increasingly popular especially among teens and young adults.
It has also become increasingly dangerous.
Adam said there have been dozens of cases in the past two years where people have gotten sick and--in some cases--almost died because of ingesting Spice.
Several local stores sell the items; however, many businesses require customers use a special code word before they will sell it.
Some businesses keep the products under the counter and others keep them inside safes, Adam said. A three gram bag of Spice costs $30 to $40, where the same amount of marijuana would only cost about $10, officials said.
Adam said investigating Spice crimes has become increasingly difficult because of the vague laws currently in place.
Mississippi has outlawed some forms of Spice; however, cookers commonly change the chemical compounds to circumvent the law, he said.
"These Spice cookers are just like meth cookers," Adam said. "They are always creating new blends so that they are technically legal. They mix a bunch of chemicals together and spray it on a bag of parsley or other herbs. People who smoke this stuff have no idea what they are ingesting."
Adam said his office would like to speak to the former tenants of the home to see if they have any information about what was going on there.
Adam said the two former tenants are Joshua Patterson and Cori Sullivan.
Adam said Patterson and Sullivan are considered "persons of interest," not suspects.
"We have not been able to locate them," Adam said. "We would like to speak with them or anyone else who may have information about what we found."
The incense found in the home was sent off to the Mississippi Crime Lab for analysis, Adam said.