Large Synthetic Pot Sting in NE Pennsylvania

This was no small raid!  Over 70 police officers took part in this take-down of synthetic drug dealers.

We are so proud of the officers for their diligence, for the lawmakers of Pennsylvania who made this possible, for the District Attorney in Lackawanna County for the zeal to prosecute, and to the citizens who complained and reported the presence of synthetic drug dealers operating in their community.

There is no estimate of the amount the seizure was worth, but the police confiscated box after box after box of the poison along with guns and bundles of cash.

The best quote of the story comes from Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney, Robert Klein, who said:

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“If anyone out there in Lackawanna County is still selling these products after they see this, let them be on notice. Synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic drugs are illegal in Pennsylvania and they’re not going to be tolerated in Lackawanna County. We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”

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Think of how many young lives might have been saved by this one raid.  A brilliant job!  

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Synthetic Pot Focus of Raids

Various Lackawanna County locations are targeted.

By Christopher J. Hughes chughes@golackawanna.com
Go Lackawanna Editor

SCRANTON – Law enforcement agencies throughout Lackawanna County took part Thursday morning in raids on eight businesses and two homes allegedly tied to the distribution of synthetic drugs in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Smokes R Us at 135 S. Washington Ave. in South Scranton was raided by Scranton police as part of coordinated effort by the Lackawanna County DA’s Office. Other Smokes R Us locations were also raided on Thursday as part of the coordinated action.Jason riedmiller/golackawanna

Police seized synthetic marijuana, guns, vehicles and thousands of dollars in cash in a raid on synthetic drug retailers in Lackawanna County.Jason Riedmiller/GoLackawanna

Northeastern Pennsylvania was hit by a surge of synthetic drug abuse in early 2011.

Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney Robert Klein and First Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico said about 70 police officers and members of the District Attorney’s Office began the multi-jurisdictional effort dubbed “Operation: Chemical Reaction” at about 9:30 a.m.

Teams searched homes at 126 N. Bromley Ave., West Scranton, and 135 S. Washington St., Taylor.

Businesses involved included Smokes 2 Go stores at 1332 Main St., Dickson City; 1610 Route 6, Dickson City; 1255 Route 6, Dickson City; 1114 S. Washington Ave.; 740 Oak St., Scranton; also St. Tropez, 2258 Scranton Carbondale Highway, Dickson City; the flea market at Sugarman’s Plaza, 600 Scranton Carbondale Highway, Eynon; and P&K Novelty, formerly known as Jay Bee Kingdom, 512 S. Main Ave., West Scranton.

Authorities arrested Patrick and Katherine Lachance, who operated P&K Novelty and resided in the Bromley Avenue home, and Joseph Nataloni of Dunmore.

Patrick Lachance, the operator of the West Scranton storefront, faces charges of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. It’s alleged in a criminal complaint that Katherine Lachance sold a package of “Cloud 9” synthetic marijuana to an undercover Archbald officer on March 4 at Sugarman’s, and she is expected to be charged with delivery of a controlled substance.

Further details on Patrick Lachance and Nataloni were not available at press time.

At least six more individuals whose names were not released Thursday were being processed, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The amount of synthetic marijuana taken off of the shelves was “voluminous,” but officials had no concrete estimate of the amount of product seized or its street value. Packages of synthetic marijuana were sold for $15 to $30, depending on the size and potency of the product.

“We’re still in the process of going through all of the evidence,” Klein said.

In the “small sample” of “box after box” of evidence, packages stamped with a bio-hazard symbol and sold under the names “Flame,” “Captain America,” and “Nightmare” filled two tables in a conference room.

Northeastern Pennsylvania was hit by a surge of synthetic drug abuse in early 2011. Government agencies united to pass local ordinances banning the sale and possession of “incense” and “bath salts,” or synthetic marijuana and synthetic methamphetamine.

Synthetic cannabinoids were deemed a controlled substance under Schedule 1 in a law passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in August 2011.

Complaints from the community resulted in the six-week investigation that culminated Thursday, officials said.

Klein indicated that Thursday’s raids and arrests were the start of something larger originating in Lackawanna County.

“This investigation will lead to additional investigations going up the chain,” he said.

He also acknowledged that additional retailers still exist, but he issued a warning to those that remain.

“If anyone out there in Lackawanna County is still selling these products after they see this, let them be on notice,” Klein said. “Synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic drugs are illegal in Pennsylvania and they’re not going to be tolerated in Lackawanna County. We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/Synthetic_pot_focus_of_raids_03-09-2012.html#ixzz1ocHvP1Xe
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