Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department Sends Enforcement Notification Letters to Businesses about Florida’s New Law, but Lets Distribution Continue?

Well, we have good news and bad news about Hillsborough County, Florida today.

The good news is that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing Florida’s new synthetic marijuana law, which was signed into law on Friday.  They distributed warning letters to businesses in Hillsborough County in anticipation of the expanded Florida law 893.0356.

WTSP reported on the delivery of those letters.

The bad news is that when the ABC I-Team in Tampa, FL investigated what was going on in Hillsborough County, they found that synthetic marijuana was being distributed freely:

The I-Team has uncovered not only is Spice readily available, but we’ve discovered companies right here in Tampa are distributing thousands of pounds of it.

One location is Baba Wholesale at 4402 East 10th Avenue.

The I-Team has obtained Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department intelligence reports showing shipments to the warehouse on different dates of 520, 534, and 1100 pounds of a “green leafy substance” “that smelled like marijuana.”

Because it tested negative for THC, the active ingredient in real marijuana, the Sheriff’s Department released it for delivery.

 Of course we already knew there was a problem in Hillsborough County, Florida.

One of our volunteers wondered, “Why were the kids in Polk County arrested for USING synthetic marijuana , but the shop owners, who are no better than DRUG DEALERS, were allowed to go free?”

In Polk County, the kids were arrested under FL 817.564(1b) “Imitation Control Substance,” and FL 893.0356 “Florida Analogue Law.”

Those kids were arrested in Polk County, and the shop owner sold the drugs in  Hillsborough County.

Polk County has a reputation for prosecution of synthetic marijuana, but Hillsborough County does not.

In fact, to this date, we have not heard of any charges pressed against the shop owner at the Mobile Station on County Line Road.

There appears to be a big problem in Florida with the enforcement of these laws.  Each county has a state attorney general who prosecutes cases, but counties are not cooperating on prosecuting cases that cross the county line–such as the Polk County/Hillsborough county case with the kids in Lakeland–even though it is a state law which effects all counties equally.

We wait to see whether justice will ever happen in the case of the Polk County teens, whether the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office or the Plant City Police will ever prosecute the case.

Meanwhile, we hope the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will not only enforce the laws banning sales of synthetic drugs in Hillsborough County, but they will also investigate and prosecute those who are freely distributing that product in Florida.

—–

I-Team: Local companies distributing mass quantities of synthetic marijuana

By: Alan Cohn

TAMPA – An I-Team investigation has uncovered several local businesses importing thousands of pounds of so-called synthetic marijuana into the bay area and distributing it to stores across the area.

Often known as Spice or K-2, synthetic marijuana is dangerous — and profitable.

He may only be 13 years old, but he’s old enough to be handcuffed and shackled in a Tampa Bay courtroom.

“Those are very serious charges,” says Judge Tracy Sheehan.

“Angel” (we’re not using his last name) is in a lot of trouble.

But, his distraught aunt and guardian, says, at least he’s alive.  “It’s the first time he’s done something like this,” she tells us as she leaves court.

“The first time he ever tried it he went straight to the hospital.  His heart rate was 120 over 102.  He could have died,” she says.

Angel’s aunt blames synthetic marijuana for both his legal trouble and near death.

“When did you start using Spice?” We ask.  “I started using Spice four months ago,” says Angel.

Just after Judge Tracy Sheehan ordered Angel returned to jail, the teenager told us his aunt is absolutely right.

“It made me do stuff where I’m not supposed to do, like acting weird,” said Angel.   “And my heart, it felt like it was hurting me because it was beating and made me feel nervous. ”

Angel says he and a friend got the Spice from a local convenience store where it continues to be sold legally behind the counter despite efforts in Tallahassee to ban it.

The I-Team has uncovered not only is Spice readily available, but we’ve discovered companies right here in Tampa are distributing thousands of pounds of it.

One location is Baba Wholesale at 4402 East 10th Avenue.

The I-Team has obtained Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department intelligence reports showing shipments to the warehouse on different dates of 520, 534, and 1100 pounds of a “green leafy substance” “that smelled like marijuana.”

Because it tested negative for THC, the active ingredient in real marijuana, the Sheriff’s Department released it for delivery.

We recently followed a delivery truck from the warehouse to a Seffner convenience store where bags were unloaded and delivered.

“I have no problem manufacturing anything that is legal,” says George Challita of Baba Wholesale.

Challita identified himself as the man in charge at the company and he’s right.   Until any new law goes into affect, his product is legal.

But we showed him several newspaper articles showing while synthetic marijuana is legal; the chemicals used in it are dangerous.

“How many kids get hurt everyday from other stuff?” asked Challita.

“Why would I worry about somebody I have no control of?”

Across town on West Linebaugh we found another warehouse and another company.

After first saying he makes cigars, the man, who wouldn’t identify himself, acknowledged he makes synthetic marijuana.  He wouldn’t invite us in.

But Marty Dehi, the property manager at United Business Center, tells the I-Team he’s called the police repeatedly after observing the operation while the bay doors were wide open.

Dehi said he saw “production of K-2, Spice and putting it from bulk into small containers,” he says.

The Sheriff Department confirms it’s responded to the address several times in the last few months.

“I think everyone is winking, grinning and selling this stuff surely knows damn well it’s dangerous,” says Judge Sheehan.

Sheehan says she sees kids and families almost daily in her court where Spice is cited as a factor in criminal activity.

On this day it was a 13-year-old named Angel.

“I would say this is what happened to me because I smoked Spice,” says Angel.

“If that’s how you are making your money.  Its dirty money,” says his Aunt.

There’s no way to tell where the Spice Angel smoked came from.

Regardless, George Challita says it doesn’t matter to him.

Challita says he’s stopped production at his Tampa warehouse in the last few days and plans to move his operation out of state.

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4 thoughts on “Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department Sends Enforcement Notification Letters to Businesses about Florida’s New Law, but Lets Distribution Continue?

  1. Bob Stroud

    http://gov.georgia.gov/00/​press/detail/​0,2668,165937316_181257882_1827​13455,00.html
    Georgia’s Governor just signed our state’s law banning ALL synthetic marijuana and bath salts (past, present and future) by placing them under Schedule I in the GA Controlled Substances Act. It went into effect immediately. State and loca law enforcement across the state have spread out going into covenience stores, gas stations, head shops – wherever seizing the drugs that are for sale warning the owners that in the future, any attempt to sell these products will result in arrest.

    • Yes Bob, we are very happy about the new Georgia ban. Some of our members are in Georgia and couldn’t be happier. It’s one more tool to help. Unfortunately, the bad guys are tweaking the chemicals and introducing new chemicals as fast as we can ban these. So, don’t be surprised if you see a new wave. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan may have the answer with HB 5233, which passed the Illinois House unanimously. It’s not waiting for vote in the Illinois senate. It basically outlaws mislabeling and mispackaging drugs. We have a blog on it.

  2. D

    anyways when is this supposed to be final i hear saturday the 31st by midnight (which is sunday morning) is this true??

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