Two area businesses were raided by FBI agents yesterday in Buchanan County and a third in Andrew County. The Pursuit of Happiness on the Belt Highway and The Smokers Outlet on Frederick were both raided by FBI agents in possibly connected investigations. A third business was raided in Andrew County. Authorities would not say how it was involved in the raids.
Buchanan County Sheriff Mike Strong and Sheriff Bryan Adkins from Andrew County said no one has been taken into custody in connection with the raids, but neither would comment further. Witnesses at the Verizon Wireless store next door to the Pursuit of Happiness said federal agents were armed and showed up in full gear to raid the business.
The Buchanan County Sheriffs Department assisted federal authorities and St Joseph Police officers were on the scene as investigators started gathering evidence. A news conference scheduled this afternoon was canceled because of confusion by the federal officials and at the request of the U.S. Attorney, according to Sheriff Strong.
A spokesman for the US Attorney said that under Department of Justice policy, they cannot make any comment or provide any information related to ongoing investigations. Public Affairs Officer Don Ledford confirms that nobody has been arrested and no charges have been filed as of yet. Efrain Rios the store owner of The Pursuit of Happiness said that after these raids he is still open for business. We will be getting more info from him shortly in a video interview. More info coming soon keep a watch here on Hemp Beach.
The investigation that brought federal agents to St. Joseph is part of a nationwide sting targeting synthetic drug sales. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced Thursday that raids took place all across the country this week as part of Operation Log Jam. The operation is the first of its kind taking on businesses and manufacturers that produce and sell designer synthetic drugs that are marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense or plant food.
As part of the investigation, FBI agents raided two St. Joseph businesses Wednesday. The armed officials served search warrants and interviewed employees at the Pursuit of Happiness on the N. Belt Highway and Smokerz Outlet on Frederick. No arrests or charges have stemmed from the investigation in St. Joseph. Both business tell KQ2 they have nothing to hide.
“We have never been in any trouble,” said Frank Pagan, an employee at the Pursuit of Happiness. Pagan said they were surprised by Wednesday’s raid. “It was a commotion a lot bigger than it should be,” he added. Nationwide, 91 arrests were made during Operation Log Jam. Agents also seized 4.8 million packets of synthetic drugs at various locations throughout the country. The operation also resulted in the seizure of $36 million dollars in cash as well as weapons and other assets.
The DEA said that Operation Log Jam is meant to “send a clear message” to those who profit from the sale of the dangerous drugs. The synthetic concoctions have grown in popularity as a way to get high. They have been blamed for causing short-term comas, hallucinations, seizures and even psychosis. The DEA is working with local law enforcement agencies, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Operation Log Jam. The operation has been pegged as a “zero-tolerance surge” to “combat the threat head-on.” Charges are pending at the state and federal level for those arrested during the operation.
You must be logged in to post a comment.