Investigators seize synthetic drugs in Champaign

Champaign retailers were targets of a synthetic drug sweep Tuesday morning.

The sweep was part of the “Operation Smoked Out” initiative, coordinated by the office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Investigators from Madigan’s office, along with Champaign Police, seized 873 packs of synthetic drugs, worth $13,290.27, from Global Tobacco and 1,811 packs, worth $43,567.90 from Smoke Shack.

“With these businesses sitting in the heart of our campus community, keeping our teens and students safe is a priority for our department,” Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb said in a press release. “The Champaign Police Department thanks the Attorney General’s office and associated agencies for a proactive approach to removing synthetic drugs from our city streets.”

A law that went into effect on Jan. 1 created a wider approach to bans on synthetic drug use in Illinois after drug makers attempted to bypass previous laws by replacing banned chemicals with new formulas.

From 2010 to 2011, the number of calls to the poison control center across the country related to synthetic marijuana use rose from 2,915 calls to 6,890 calls.

Madigan has been working to create awareness of the dangers of synthetic drug use since late 2011, when she hosted the first-ever statewide emergency summit.

Since then, Madigan’s office has reached out with county and local law enforcement officers, educators, parents and health care professionals to reduce synthetic drug use.