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18 arrested in multi-city "spice" raid

Posted at 7:27 AM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 13:10:06-04

Tucson police, in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration, conducted multiple raids throughout the city Wednesday morning.

The raids were part of a long-term, multi-city federal investigation involving the sales and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids, aka “spice" according to the DEA.

“DEA, with the support of our law enforcement partners in Arizona, is conducting a series of enforcement operations throughout the Tucson area as part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation," DEA spokeswoman Erica Curry said via email.  "Due to the continuing investigative efforts of DEA, we cannot provide additional information at this time.”

Curry confirmed that 32 federal search warrants were issued and 18 people were arrested during the raids.

Nearly 600 pounds of synthetic cannabinoids were seized and a possible spice lab was dismantled. They also seized several luxury vehicles and over $350,000 in cash.

The Tucson Fire Department says since May 1st, crews have responded to 192 Spice related calls. Captain Barrett Baker says handling calls with synthetic drugs can be difficult because medics never know what they are going to get. 

"Some people are agitated, some people might be very relaxed, some people might be vomiting continuously," Baker said. 

According to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office, one person has died of a Spice overdose this year. In 2015 two people died from Spice overdoses. 

In comparison to other drugs, 93 people died from heroine overdoses in Pima County in 2015, and 49 died from alcohol related deaths.