Hancock Co. authorities investigating two spice related deaths

Hancock Co. authorities investigating two spice related deaths
Ralph Waymire (Photo source: Facebook)
Ralph Waymire (Photo source: Facebook)
Robert Redford (Photo source: Hancock County Sheriff's Department)
Robert Redford (Photo source: Hancock County Sheriff's Department)

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County authorities are warning there's a deadly batch of spice making its way around the county. In two days, Robert Redford, 33, and Ralph Waymire, 59, died, and investigators believe both deaths were spice related. Another person was put on life support, deputies say, after being rushed to the hospital for smoking spice.

"When people die, people want to react, but hell, it's too late for the guy that's already died," Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam said. "We have been battling this and have these halfwit chemists out there who are mixing up this crap that our kids and adults are smoking."

Adam is frustrated. His deputies have been trying to get spice off the streets and warn people about the dangerous drug since taking office nearly four years ago.

"We know there is a bad batch of spice out there, not that there is such a thing as good spice, but this one kills you pretty quickly. Not over a long term period," Adam said.

What makes spice so dangerous, Hancock County Narcotics Cmdr. Jeremy Skinner said, is those smoking it don't know what they are ingesting.

"You don't know all the additional stuff that has been added into it, whether it be an insecticide or another type of controlled substance. Whether they are lacing it with a cocaine, meth or heroin," Skinner said.

In three years, sheriff's deputies have worked hundreds of cases involving spice. They used to find it packaged and sold in stores. Now, deputies are finding people mixing it in their homes and selling it in bags.

"These people who are mixing up the spice, they aren't chemists. They are just other dopers looking to make a buck. They don't have a degree in anything. They will just mix whatever they can to try and make a profit," Adam said. "They could care less. All they want to know is it will get you high, and if you survive it, you will come back and buy some more."

"All drugs are dangerous, but the difference is if you are a meth addict, you know how to self-dose yourself. Where with spice, you don't know exactly how much of what is in it, so you can't do that," Skinner said. "You are taking a risk, a shot in the dark, when you ingest this. You can smoke it, hit it, take one puff and it can kill you instantly."

Toxicology tests have been sent off to figure out what's in the deadly spice that is believed to have killed two Hancock County men and to see if they may have gotten it from the same batch.

"All these people come from the same general area, so they know the same people so they could very well be," Adam said.

As investigators wait for results, they continue trying to track down where it's coming from.

"If we can find the person who sold whatever illegal substance that was causing death, we will explore every option to charge them criminally in relation to their deaths," Skinner said.

The department will continue working with state and federal authorities to help get all spice off the streets of Hancock County.

"The former DEA Gulfport Special Agent in Charge is now in Washington, and he has pledged any support, money, amount of people to help us out," Adam said. "We are going to put enough pressure on them to where they will either quit selling it or go somewhere else."

If you have any information about spice in Hancock County, you are asked to call the sheriff's department at 228-466-6900.

If you know anyone who is smoking it, Adam said you need to react immediately.

"I would put them in my vehicle and bring them to the hospital," Adam said. "If it's the bad batch, killer batch, that's the only chance they have."

Investigators estimate spice is selling for around $30 to $40 for three grams, which they say is about 50 percent more expensive than marijuana.

"I think what draws them, and this is a personal opinion, but they call it legal weed," said Skinner. "When you call it legal weed, they assume it to be legal or won't have any adverse effect on them physically, but that is farthest from the truth. It is very, very dangerous."

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