GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - More spice has been taken off the market in South Mississippi, but this time it was not confiscated by police.
After seeing our stories about recent spice raids in Hancock County, one store owner handed over to the Drug Enforcement Administration close to 2,000 packets of what sellers market as potpourri.
The owner said the product flew off the shelves, but because it was controversial, extra precautions were always taken to make sure the potpourri did not contain any illegal chemicals.
"Distributors come in the door with a lab report saying there is no chemical in this that is illegal in your state," the owner explained. "So at the advice of the sheriff's department last year, we used an independent lab and we continually did that basically to monitor."
The owner said all of the products they sold tested negative for illegal substances. But after finding out some of the same brand products were confiscated in Hancock County, the owner removed the products from the shelves immediately and contacted authorities.
"If you turn it into us, that's a separate instance," Danny Comeaux with the DEA said. "It's a case by case, and we will discuss it and talk to you about it. But if you don't turn it into us, you never know when we are looking for you."
The potpourri handed over cost the store about $15,000 and could have netted a big profit.
"We have received information this can be purchased from distributors for about $3 and sell from $10 to $12," Comeaux said. "And a larger package here purchased for $10 to $12 from a distributor can sell anywhere from $24 to $26."
The store owner said normally this amount would sell in one or two days, but after the raids, "We were literally stampeded with customers coming through the door wanting to buy it all. But we said, 'No.'"
The DEA hopes more store owners will help them get rid of these synthetic drugs because while they can ring in big bucks, they are extremely dangerous.
"The consumer is playing Russian Roulette with their life because you don't know what someone else is making in their garage and selling as spice," Comeaux said.
We attempted to contact Best Coast Distributing out of Florida, which is responsible for selling some of the products to local stores, but our call was sent straight to voicemail and there was no room to leave a message.