Synthetic marijuana crackdown in Palm Beach County

SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A massive crackdown on synthetic marijuana took place today in Palm Beach County.

Local state and federal authorities raided a storage warehouse at 2350 North Military Trail in suburban West Palm Beach.

Surveillance cameras at the homes on Franklin road were also seized in the raid.

Law enforcement officials tell NewsChannel 5 the investigation did have to do with the warehouse explosion back in May on Georgia Avenue in West Palm Beach, when a fire broke out at the warehouse and after the fire was put out, DEA agents looked into hundreds of incense packets on the ground at the scene.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the storage warehouse was being used as a major lab and distribution center for synthetic marijuana.  

"This is one of, if not the largest distributor in the United States," said Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.

The sheriff confirms the 3,000 square foot unit was used to make and packet synthetic marijuana that would then be shipped to convenience stores around the country.

"We're going to make a huge dent in what is going on in the distribution of synthetic marijuana," said Bradshaw.

Authorities spent the day collecting evidence that was described by one DEA agent as very dangerous and flammable.  

At least 4 people were arrested at the storage facility Wednesday morning.  

Mike Larrabee owns an auto shop across from the storage unit.  He says he never noticed anything suspicious but did wonder why so many cars would leave at one time.

"At 5 p.m., it was like grand central station with all the cars that would come from around the back at one time, that's been going on for the past 2-3 weeks," he said.

Tuesday morning, Larrabee arrived to work to witness the raid.

"There were 4-5 guys lined up against the wall and they were taking weapons out of all of them. When you have drugs being made out of a warehouse, it makes you wonder, " said Larrabee.

Investigators also shut down the 700 block of Franklin Road in southern West Palm Beach.
The Drug Enforcement Administration entered 710 Franklin Road and 729 Franklin Road with shovels and other equipment.
They were assisted by the West Palm Beach Police Department as well as the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
An officer from the DEA office in Broward County confirmed the investigation was connected to synthetic drugs.
DEA Agents on scene confirmed that arrests were made, but didn't say how many people were picked up.
They are expected to release more information during a news conference Thursday afternoon, agents on the scene said.
Deputies from the K-9 unit were out on the street searching for money and more, they said.
Sources say the shovels were used to dig up money that was buried in the yards of the homes that were raided.  
At least one car was seized during the raid as well.

"They got away with it for a little while, but not for very long," said Sheriff Rick Bradshaw.


NewsChannel 5's Ryan Calhoun contributed to this report

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