WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - After news that one of the largest distributors of synthetic drugs in the nation may have been operating inside a West Palm Beach storage facility, federal documents show the operation was extensive, involving several players.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has been working very closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration for several months.
Investigators say Dylan Harrison, John Shealy and Michael Bryant were all involved in Kratom Labs, which produced small packets of the drug 'Mr. Nice Guy,' and labeled it as incense. It was distributed to all 50 states.
"They got away with it for a little bit, but at the end of the day, they're not going to get away with it for very long," said Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
Agents searched the North Military Trail location on Wednesday, confiscating ingredients that are part of a massive synthetic drug operation, according to investigators. They said the operation may stretch far beyond Florida state lines.
Seven miles from the storage facility, authorities were seen digging up the yard of a Franklin Road home. They later left the scene with a substantial amount of evidence.
All of this activity was part of a year-long, multi-agency investigation. "The bigger picture is going to be taking down the big guys," said Lantana Police Officer Nelson Berrios, who says his mission is to help shut down those 'big guys'.
Wednesday's raid resulted in several arrests and more, investigators said, were on the way.
"Concentrating on the big guy, not so much the little user on the street or the little convenience store," said Berrios. "Let's get the bigger picture which is the bigger guy."
The probe into possible local synthetic drug manufacturing became high-profile in May after an explosion at a warehouse on Georgia Avenue in West Palm Beach. Investigators say among the evidence collected there, were thousands of plastic packets often associated with synthetic marijuana. Authorities confirmed that the May incident was linked to the raids on Wednesday. "We're going to make a huge dent in the distribution of this synthetic marijuana, because what's going on is making our young people sick," said Bradshaw.
Witnesses said some of the people arrested had to be disarmed by law enforcement. Their identities have yet to be released.
On Thursday near Washington, D.C., a press conference will be held by federal authorities that may shed more light on what happened in West Palm Beach and about a new and tougher national crackdown on the synthetic marijuana trade.
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