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Sweep nets $53K worth of synthetic drugs from Bloomington retailers

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BLOOMINGTON — Synthetic drugs valued at more than $53,000 were collected Tuesday from six Bloomington retailers during a drug sweep involving the Illinois Attorney General’s office and local law enforcement.

Stores in the Twin Cities and Champaign were targets of “Operation Smoke Out,” an initiative of Attorney General Lisa Madigan to remove illegal synthetic drugs from stores across the state.

The Bloomington Police Department requested the operation, said Madigan’s office.

“Our goals are awareness and voluntary compliance with the law by store owners so that these illegal and dangerous drugs are not available to young people to purchase and use,” Assistant Bloomington Police Chief Bob Walls said in a statement released after the operation.

The operation included Bloomington and Normal police and McLean County Sheriff’s Department. No synthetic drugs were found in Normal retailers.

The following inventory of 3,652 packets of synthetic drugs was collected in Bloomington shops:

Global Tobacco, 614 N. Main St., 1,341 packs valued at $21,476; Global Tobacco, 2303 E. Washington St., 1,290 packs, $17,990; Smoker’s Den, 606 N. Main St., 626 packs, $6,518; Price Rite, 706 N. Clinton Ave. 186 packs, $4,650; Main Street Convenience, 1919 S. Main St., 61 packs, $1,033 and Discount Smoke and Pop, 1415 N. Main St., 148 packs, $2,070.

According to attorney general spokesman Scott Mulford, officers went into the stores to check for illegal substances available for sale to customers. Store managers were confronted with drugs located in the stores and were required to sign an affidavit acknowledging the items that were seized by police, said Mulford.

No criminal charges were filed.

The Twin Cities’ sweep is among similar operations conducted in 23 other counties. The cooperative effort pays off for communities, said Sheriff Mike Emery.

“I appreciate the time and resources that Attorney General Madigan puts into this initiative in our collective effort to get these dangerous drugs out of circulation,” said Emery.

Normal Police Chief Rich Bleichner said police will continue to put pressure on retailers to keep the dangerous products off the shelf.

In McLean County, one death has been linked to synthetic drugs, according to Coroner Beth Kimmerling. In two other deaths, the illegal substance is believed to have been a contributing factor and a third death investigation involving possible synthetic drug use is pending, said the coroner.

A bill pending in the Illinois legislature would prohibit the sale of synthetic substances.

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