SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Law enforcement agencies across South Mississippi are going after spice makers and dealers.
In Ocean Springs, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents found 18 pounds of a chemical that could be used to make more than 700 pounds of spice and 37 pounds of synthetic cannabis. Officials estimate the spice is worth up to $3 million.
A father is being charged and charges could be made against a mother. The couple's 9-month-old and 9-day-old children are now in Department of Human Services custody.
In Harrison County, sheriff's deputies and Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team agents seized more than $15,000 worth of spice they believe was being made at two Gulfport homes.
"We don't have any jurisdictional boundaries in Harrison County," Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said. "We are going to go everywhere in Harrison County we need to go to get the spice off the streets."
In a home on 24th Street in Gulfport, deputies found seven pounds of Damiana leaves, packages of an unknown powered chemical shipped in from China used to spray on the leaves and two pounds of spice ready to be bagged up and sold.
"It's like Russian roulette every time somebody uses spice," Brisolara said. "They don't know the amount of the chemical they are actually getting. These guys don't sit down and measure the chemical. They just spray it on there, so every pack is not the same."
According to the state department of health, in Mississippi, more than 680 people have been rushed to the emergency room in one month from spice. Two deaths in Hancock County and two deaths in Harrison County are being investigated as spice related.
"Everybody compares it to marijuana. This is nothing like marijuana at all," Lt. Ryan Hearn said.
"It's not a good thing," Brisolara said. "I don't know what has to happen to them to realize this can kill them."
Sheriff's deputies also found a stolen AR-15 assault rifle inside the home.
Carlton Alan Tate, 22, is being charged, and deputies are still looking for Stephon Wright.
Four miles away from 24th Street on Reynosa Drive, around 30 grams of spice were found inside a home along with digital scales and six grams of cocaine. Thomas Buckley, 27, is charged with possession of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute spice.
"The problem is it's extremely cheap to make and has a very high profit," Hearn said. "The chemical costs $5 for four pounds. That tells you something right there."
As long as spice continues to be a popular high, the sheriff said his deputies will continue tracking and going after the dealers.
"We are determined to get it off the streets," Brisolara said.