ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The Drug Enforcement Administration is calling it the largest crackdown ever on the people who make and distribute synthetic designer drugs.
Hundreds of search and arrest warrants were executed across the U.S. including New Mexico locations on Wednesday.
Yellow tape marked off the doorway at The Moon Smoke Shop in Albuquerque early Wednesday. DEA agents and Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies milled about, as boxes and containers of what appeared to be synthetic drugs sat in plain sight.
New Mexico officials weren't saying much, but the DEA announced the sweeping drug bust, called Project Synergy, later that day. More than 150 arrest warrants and 375 search warrants were issued in 35 states and five countries.
The drugs, including bath salts and synthetic marijuana, are often marketed as seemingly innocuous products, and they've become increasingly popular among young people.
"The bottom line is that these drugs are being marketed to probably the most vulnerable part of our society, which is our young teenagers and adults," DEA Chief of Operations James Capra said during a news conference in Arlington, Va.
DEA officials said the use of synthetic drugs has led to an increase in emergency room visits around the country and that the money from the sale of these drugs has been traced back to the Middle East.
Both Farmington and Grants police departments told KRQE News 13 their departments assisted federal officials Wednesday morning in synthetic drug raids.
Farmington Police Chief Kyle Westall issued a statement, saying, "Regional distribution of synthetic cannabinoids has seen an exponential increase in the past few years. Without the help of the DEA it would have been impossible for us to inhibit the flow of these dangerous drugs."
A news conference to release more details is expected Thursday afternoon in Albuquerque.
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