HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton Police recovered over $1 million in synthetic drugs and more than $200 thousand in U.S. currency after a major drug bust.
Officers served 19 search warrants to businesses and residences in both Butler and Hamilton Counties on Thursday. Officers recovered over 51,600 packets of synthetic drugs valued at over $1 million.
Drug paraphernalia, four handguns and $210 thousand in U.S. currency were also recovered at the scene.
The City of Hamilton has been conducting a long term investigation of trafficking synthetic marijuana in several businesses including Wireless A, Pleasant Avenue Wireless & Smoke Shop, CK Wireless, Bonkerz and the EZ Wireless Store. All of the businesses are located in the City of Hamilton.
Authorities say that the sale of synthetic drugs has been on the increase in the area. Officers say that they had contacts in other countries, as well as other states, who have driven to Hamilton for the sole purpose of purchasing these drugs.
Police state that synthetic marijuana is often more potent that regular cannabis. The packaging often depicts cartoon characters or other pictures to entice a younger crowd.
Reports by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicate that people between the ages of 12 and 29 accounted for three out of four emergency room visits involving synthetic marijuana.
Police have arrested three suspects over the course of the investigation.
Tariq Abuawad, 30,was arrested while working at the Sycamore Market. Authorities say that numerous packs of synthetic marijuana were discovered at the business.
Erin Wilson, 21, was arrested after a bag or marijuana was found in her purse as police were serving warrants.
Tareq Ahmed Saleem Odeh, 27, was also arrested.
The investigation is ongoing. Police say more charges are expected.