Just three hours before local law enforcement had planned to have a press conference on the subject, Mobile County Sheriff’s deputies confiscated $15,000 worth of spice.
Sheriff Sam Cochran told reporters at a press conference highlighting the dangers of spice that his department seized 489 packages of the popular marijuana analog during a traffic stop on Interstate 10. Cochran said the department had evidence that Mobile County was the final destination for the packages, but couldn’t go into specifics.
He said arrests were made in the case, but as of Wednesday afternoon, booking of the suspects hadn’t been completed.
“We just want to alert the public that it’s here, it’s here in abundance and it’s something that’s serious,” Cochran said.
While spice has been on the scene for some time, the danger of the chemicals in it have been magnified recently by a number of illnesses and two possible deaths attributed to the substance, Mobile Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Rains said in a statement released Tuesday.
MPD Chief James Barber said the department believes the suspicious deaths of two adult males were caused by spice because family members admitted they used spice before their deaths and there was no medical background to explain the deaths.
“At this point we felt it was prudent to warn people that we are dealing a batch of spice that we haven’t seen before,” Barber said.
Interim Mobile Fire-Rescue Chief Randy Smith said the department has been dealt with an unusually high frequency of calls related to bad spice reactions. For example, in the month of March the department responded to two spice-related calls. Whereas in the last 17 days the department has seen 25 calls related to bad reactions to spice.
Rains wrote that spice is believed to be causing cardiac-related issues as well as hallucinations to those who use it.
Law enforcement officials asked parents to be vigilant and report anything they come across that may help authorities locate local shops that are selling the illegal substance.
Cochran said shops can no longer legally sell spice, but it hasn’t stopped some from profiting off it.
“You can’t sell it in store fronts anymore, but because it was such a money maker for some stores, owners sell it under the counter,” he said.
Sale of the substance can also go on without the owners’ knowledge, Cochran said.
“We’ve been cracking down on them,” he said.
Mobile police investigators are currently reaching out to area hospital emergency rooms and local doctors. Anyone with information about the drug is asked to contact Mobile police, Rains wrote.