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San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

Press Release

Synthetic Drugs Task Force Operation


October 23, 2013


Location: San Bernardino County



Members of a designated Sheriff’s Department task force, aimed at the eradication of dangerous synthetic drugs, served warning letters to businesses throughout the county advising them the sales of “bath salts” or “spice” – as they are commonly called – are not permitted in the county.


Five teams of deputies served notices at 21 locations in an effort to educate business owners about the dangers of selling synthetic drugs and to give them the opportunity to surrender any illicit products and avoid criminal prosecution. Each business was served with a letter outlining the California laws that ban the sales of Synthetic Drugs.


Five locations voluntarily surrendered the synthetic drug product most commonly referred to as “spice.” No bath salts were recovered. In total, business owners surrendered 179 packets of spice from store shelves. The packets for sale varied from vials containing 3 grams each, to colorful foil packets containing anywhere from 4 to 10 grams of the synthetic drugs. The packages contained cartoon characters, such as Scooby Doo or the Superman logo, and were labeled with animals and bright colors to appeal to the youth. Packets of spice were sold from $8, for 3 grams, to $45 for the 10 gram packet. A total of 746 grams of product was removed from store shelves.


The other 16 locations either said they no longer sold the substances or were going to contact their distributer to return the product and get their money back. All contacts were positive with no conflict. Deputies who delivered the letters spoke with business owners about the legal ramifications of selling synthetic drugs.


“Some business owners may not understand exactly what they are selling,” Sheriff John McMahon said. “We want to educate them on the law and the dangers of synthetic drugs so they do not put the residents of this county – or their business – in jeopardy.”


“Spice” and “bath salts” – also known as “designer drugs” – have been scientifically formulated to create the same effects of more common drugs, such as marijuana, methamphetamine or PCP. But these “fake” substances are not detected on standard drug tests because they are a synthetic imitation. For this reason, abuse tends to run rampant in the military and other professions in which drug testing is a common occurrence.


The Sheriff’s Department has worked closely with various residents involved in local coalitions throughout the County who are concerned about the covert effect synthetic drugs have had on their community.  These dedicated community members have been a driving force in garnering awareness of this problem and opening law enforcement’s eyes to the extent of possible sales in the county, McMahon said.


Spice is a mixture of herbs sprayed with the synthetic chemicals that is usually smoked. Bath salts are synthetic chemicals in a powder or crystal form that are usually snorted or injected. These highly addictive, synthetic drugs are marketed as potpourri, decorative sand, shoe deodorizers or glass cleaner; however they have nothing in common with the products they are advertised to be. They are packaged using bright colors and cartoon characters in an obvious ploy to attract children.


“These drugs are affecting two segments of the population who deserve the most protection: our children and the brave men and women who serve in our country’s armed forces,” McMahon said.


One of the most common effects of these drugs is homicidal and suicidal tendencies, making them extremely dangerous for law enforcement officials who are called to respond to those who may be under the influence of spice or bath salts.


The effects of these synthetic, or “designer” drugs, range greatly because there is no prescribed dosage on any of the packages. Users have been known to suffer cardiac arrest, brain seizures, tremors, and excited delirium.  Others have extraordinary strength, similar to the effects associated with the use of PCP, making the Taser and other force options ineffective. While producers of bath salts promise a euphoric high, similar to cocaine or methamphetamine, the psychotic results of the synthetic drugs are far more severe and addictive.



For more information contact:


Jodi Miller, PIO (909)387-3599 or Lolita Harper, Deputy at (909)387-0633.


For IMMEDIATE information please e-mail: or



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John McMahon, Sheriff-Coroner

San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department

Sheriff’s Public Affairs Division

655 E. Third Street

San Bernardino, California 92415-0061

Telephone: (909) 387-3700

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