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5/8/2012 9:59:00 PM
'Bath salt' raid charges dropped; synthetic drugs' ingredients altered to skirt law
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - In February, agents from the Partners Against Narcotic Trafficking (PANT) task force led 27 uniformed and undercover officers in a well-publicized bust of five area shops they claimed were selling synthetic drugs. Now, charges against those arrested have been dropped.

The agents said they found illegal "bath salts" and "glass cleaner," names used to refer to the synthetic drugs. The seized drugs included packages labeled Eight Ballz, Amped and Black Ice.

PANT raided Mike's Mini-Mart on Gurley Street, the C-Stop Market on Grove, and the Quick Stop on South Montezuma in Prescott; they also hit the X-Hale Smoke Shop on Robert Road and Mario's Discount Cigarette and Food Store on Spouse Drive in Prescott Valley.

The agents confiscated dozens of packages of the alleged drugs, but only three arrests were ever made, and one of them was an employee who happened to show up, allegedly under the influence, while agents were at a store.

The Yavapai County Attorney's Office last month dropped the charges against the two store owners who were arrested in February.

Paula Marie Farley-Hussain, owner of X-Hale, had been charged with two counts of sale or transportation of drugs, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of misconduct involving weapons. She was never indicted on the charges.

Nail Nour Ayoub, owner of the C-Stop, faced three counts: two counts of possession of drugs and one for possession of drug paraphernalia. He was not indicted, either.

On April 24, the YCAO dropped the charges against both.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane said that, although preliminary drug tests done on the substances while in the field indicated positive results, they aren't admissible at trial; the full tests completed at the DPS crime lab came back negative, McGrane said.

"By time the state law (making the substances illegal) could pass, they (the drug makers) changed the compound," McGrane said, so what PANT seized is not technically illegal. "It's poison no matter what you call it or what the compound is," said McGrane.

A PANT spokesman told a Daily Courier reporter at the busts in February that the other store owners were cooperating with law enforcement to help find and arrest the suppliers of the drugs.

Sgt. James Gregory, director of PANT, did not respond to repeated telephone messages seeking comment for this story.







Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 02, 2012
Article comment by: Will Campell

It's the simple fact that one officer could have got a sample. How much did that raif cost for nothing to come of it? Yes the shop keepers may be doing something unethical but does it justify the cost? It's increasing awareness among drug users that it's a synthetic drug made from common, easy to get items. These people who think they are chemists can take something dangerous and make it far worse not knowing what they are doing. The biggest point of all I believe is that it's showing people that getting away with nothing is just a tweak at the atomic level away.

Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: Polk Admirer

Tom Babbitt has it right. This was a keystone cops screwup---a huge raid, involving many officers, when one law-enforcement officer could have secured the necessary evidence.

PANT, operating under County Attorney Sheila
Polk's direction, is just one more part of Polk's
non-operating machine. In this instance a well known community leader was held 5 days in jail, and her reputation damaged, because PANT classified as illegal products which DPS later found were not. You can see the lawsuit coming.

After the sweat lodge and deMocker cases, you would think Polk would be tightening up her act.


Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2012
Article comment by: Ralph Kyner

to: @ Ralph Kiner [sic]
I amfor less government, and the solution to my problem requires little to no government. Anyone who is overdosing on an illegal substance or who was injured whilst participating in nefarious activities doesn't get the 'state mandated helathcare' . If you think that is so draconian look at your life insurance policy. There are certain things that your insurance company will not pay out on, i.e. suicide, participating in criminal acts, etc. Why should tax payer supported health care be any different?


Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012
Article comment by: @ Really

I'm sure you'd love to believe that cops and judges are all part of the same "gang" and work together to oppress the common folk. Where do you think you are, Iran? Oh wait, if you were at a place where that actually happens, none of these charges would be dropped and these people would probably be being tortured right now behind a closed door prison.

I find it fascinating you talk about ethics. You think it's ethical what these business owners are doing? You think it's ethical for them to sell these drugs to people knowing fair well what it does to them? Not only was what the cops did here legal, it was perfectly ethical. And likewise it was ethical for the prosecutor to drop the charges after the probable cause went dry.

And do you really think the world would be a better place if meth were legal? And that the police and judges just want to keep it legal so they can keep their jobs? Sir, I'd encourage you to check the fit of your tin foil hat as I think it's loose. I can understand someone wanting to legalize a harmless drug like marijuana, but legalizing meth is a ridiculous thing to do. Same with heroin, cocaine, etc. Talk to any former addict about what those drugs did to their lives and ask them how they'd feel about being able to walk into their local gas station and pick up a gram of methamphetamine. Sure, having prohibition on drugs creates a large black market, and breeds cartels and street dealers, but looking at if from the perspective of an average citizen, I'd have no idea how to get a hold of a gram of meth if I wanted it. But when it comes to legal substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, anyone and everyone can get a hold of it without any effort (age limiting to a degree of course). So ask yourself how many times a day your child comes in contact with legal substances, and then consider illegal ones. Imagine your child walking down the street and seeing people smoking meth, like they do people with cigarettes. Imagine them in a restaurant seeing someone shoot up heroin before their meal, just like they see people drinking alcohol. Imagine them seeing someone snorting cocaine in the morning to get their "jolt" just like they see them doing with coffee now. That is the world without prohibition, and it is hardly just an illusion that the world is safer with it.


Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012
Article comment by: Really .

Thank you, Mr. Criminal Justice, for distilling your gospel upon us unwashed laypeople.
Problem is, you never seem to acknowledge the true gripe.
Probable cause can be manufactured for *any* reason an LEO deems worthy, moreso in a drug case, and judges can and will be swayed to sign off. Because they all sort of 'play on the same team,' you see.
The arrests may be legal, but how ethical are they? I bet the wolves guarding the henhouse would tell you they are doing God's work.
The truth is, cops are constantly playing catchup on synthetic drugs even in big cities. If you create a law to ban one substance, the manufacturers will use another. Simple supply and demand. It's how these things work, and have worked for decades. Are you going to blame the suppliers for capitalism?
The giant elephant in the room that most ignore is that using logical avenues to legalize certain drugs would severly cripple any need for synthetics. Meth is popular because it's cheap. Cops, lawyers and judges aren't interested in curbing it - they need a 'War on Drugs' to make their livings at the taxpayer expense.
Is the solution to make MORE laws? Ugh. But why not, since I suppose our pesky individual freedoms aren't necessary as long as the kids have an illusion of safety, right?


Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

This is an example of how zealots operate. A single detective would have been able to purchase samples for testing and if after lab analysis those samples turned out to be positive a subpoena could have been issued for the accused to show up for trial. This is known as civilized behavior.
To have 27 uniformed and undercover officers involved is abuse. It is abusive to the falsely accused and it is abusive to me as a land owner in Yavapai County.


Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012
Article comment by: @Ralph Kiner

Watch out - that's a slippery slope you are on, dude.

Let's extend that to not wearing seatbelts, speeding, being overweight, eating fast food.

Hey - sounds good. Bet you are a Republican decrying big government - but of course you would need a very big government to intrude on all of our lives to enforce your silly notion.


Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012
Article comment by: Ralph Kyner

... IF there is national healthcare (paid for by the working people) and some idiot who smokes bath salts or glass cleaner or whatever and starts to have a medical situation as a result of that, will there be a provision that states that people engaging in an illegal venture will be covered at taxpayer expense? I know the tax payer picks up a lot now, but we shouldn't have to. The result should be along the lines of Monty Python's "Holy Grail"..."Bring out your Dead......."

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: @ Concerned Person

Oh yeah, the police must've got so bored with enforcing the law that they decided to go enforce the law! It's almost as if that's there job.

@ Plocica

These retailers know darn well what they're selling. This is nothing like smoking banana peels, these "bath salts" are actually drugs, and they flashed positive on the field test for drugs. Study forensic serology if you want to know how this works, essentially we can create antibodies for drugs by attaching them with an antigen and injecting them into an animal. The animal will produce an antibody for the drug that will react with the drug no matter where it is, hence "field testing." Lab tests function off of different method for identifying drugs, however. Look up mass spectrometry/gas chromatography, or spectrophotometry if you're really interested in how we determine what substances are present. Do you really expect police officers to carry around incredibly expensive lab equipment that takes a trained forensic scientist to use and is not mobile in the least?


Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

I have serious doubts about this statement, "although preliminary drug tests done on the substances while in the field indicated positive results". This looks like fraud to me.

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Hey Whatta Joke did you get a ged?

@Whatta Joke Speaking of getting an education. I guess you did learn that a lot is two words not "alot".

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Concerned Person

Bored police departments with nothing else to do, let's just make something out of nothing....Been there done that with PVPD....

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Beyond Slogans

Honesty is needed on what is and is not dangerous.

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Plocica

Let me see - the sellers claimed they were selling Bath Salts. The police claimed they were selling drugs. It was found they were selling bath salts not drugs. The police claim the lemon smell and other items changed them from being heroine like. Gee the sneaky criminals get away again - all that Constitution stuff is just fluff!

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Plocica

INTERESTING LOGIC - let me see. The police arrested people for selling bath salts (as legal as Tide Detergent) then dropped charges of drug dealing. To me the only thing wrong here is the police. Remember the 1960s baloney about smoking banana peels (which will not light)?

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Article comment by: Richard Plocica

INTERESTING LOGIC

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: We're Doomed

The question is simple. Do we continue to play "Whack a Mole" or do we serioulsy reconsider how we treat drugs and drug use in this country?

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: YRMC worker

But how many kids and mindless adults buy this stuff trying to get high and end up in the ER with a fast heart rate or hallucinating.... but who cares right? Not the law

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: The Rev

Living up to news stories and MATForce luncheons cannot helpful to enforcement or prevention. My LEO friends you have tried everything else, now is the time to embrace true Peelian basics, the alternative being the comments below mine.

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Criminal Justice Lesson

Here's a criminal justice lesson for those of you who think they have it all figured out:

The standard of evidence needed for arrest is *probable cause.* If you want some case law on this standard, research "Carrol v. United States." They did the tests in the field, this establishes probable cause. Probable cause is, however, a much lower standard than "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" which is what the prosecutor needs to go to trial. So these arrests were perfectly legal, and those of you who have a problem with it don't have any clue what you're talking about. Cases get dropped all the time.

@Whatta Joke

I'm sure you're the same person you were in high school, right? Or perhaps you changed and grew up, just like I'm sure these police officers did. It's not an easy profession to be hired into, people have to pass extensive backgrounds, polygraphs, psychological exams (both paper evaluations and by a trained psychologist), written exams (measuring this "intelligence" you refer to), multiple oral interviews, and then a 19 week academy where they continue to be subject to termination until they prove themselves.


Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Alex Greene

What a waste of taxpayers' money to pay a bunch of unintelligent cops just so they can run around with guns and act tough. Was it supposed to be good for PR? If money must be spent, then spend it on educating people that this stuff is unknown, untested, produces a possibly dangerous effect, and is most probably highly addictive as well. Hey, just let folks grown their own backyard "herb" for their own use, & these weird products need not exist anymore.

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Dead Sprat

Title 21 of the United States Code – Controlled Substances Act at Section 841. Prohibited Act A

clearly states under (a) Unlawful Acts

Except as authorized by this subchapter. it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally -....... (2) to create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.

Regardless if you changed the contents of bath salts to eliminate those chemicals banned by Arizona Statutes and continued to market it as “bath salts” - under Federal Statutes you would still be guilty.

There are thousands in Federal custody who sold “Cocaine, Heroin and other illegal substances that proved to be baby powder, bath powder or some other innocuous substance.

I do not share the numerous comments about the law enforcement officials involved in this incident. Had they been Federal Officers all these sellers would be heading for Federal Prison.


Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: We will NEVER win this war Wake up

To Alex Vakula: So should we boycott all the places that sell potentially harmful substances when smoked? That would include Frys, Safeway, Walmart and all places that sell nutmeg, ammonia, newspapers, clothing, linens, and whatever endless stream of products that can be harmful if misused.

Probably more logical to realize that abusers will find something to abuse, no matter where they get it or how many businesses you want to boycott.


Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Whatta Joke

I think there should be educational requirements to be a cop. I know alot of them from high school, and they were good jocks, good bullies (always the ones getting in fights), but they were not very smart. I think that is what went wrong here. I think alot of these stupid mistakes would go away if these guys had more than a GED edumacation.

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Article comment by: Whatta Joke

What a joke....... Im sure these "tuff guys" with guns had so much fun. I am so tired of the police bieng in the buisness of ruining peoples lives, and not public safety. Why is it that in our hard economic times the only ones not effected are the police. We need to defund these bullies. I dont do drugs, never been arrested, and am a good citizen. Why should I live my life in fear? These PANT guys are obviously not the sharpest tools in the box if you know what I mean.


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