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TPD steps up enforcement of bath salts ban

Tucson police are going undercover to bust shops that are selling bath salts with ingredients now banned in Arizona.

TPD steps up enforcement of bath salts ban

CREATED Mar 9, 2012

Reporter: Stephani Ruiz

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Police are cracking down on smoke shop owners after the state outlawed a drug called bath salts.

TPD says this trend of inhaling or smoking bath salts is fairly new, but it's a growing problem. Nationwide, cases have grown by the thousands in the last two years alone. That's why police are working so hard to tackle this problem before it gets out of hand in our community.

Selling bath salts is against state and federal law- a Class 5 Felony.

Still, officers found them in every smoke shop they visited last Friday.
         
"I'm very worried. This has a very negative impact on the community. This stuff is gonna hurt people and it's gonna hurt people very badly," Richard Anemone, with the Tucson Police Department, said.

Those stores have until today to get rid of the drugs- or face the consequences.
 
"If we go in through an undercover operation and we buy one of these products and they're selling these products on their shelves, and these products contain one of the substances that are scheduled 4 through the state of Arizona or scheduled 1 through the Controlled Substances Act, we will go after them, we will arrest them, we will prosecute them, we will seize assets," Anemone said.

Even with the emergency law, getting rid of bath salts is difficult. For starters, bath salts don't show up on drug tests so if it's difficult to prove is someone is inhaling them.

Officers say the companies selling the drug know exactly why people are buying it. And they're changing the packaging, or even the ingredients to comply with the law- but still get people high.

"They're hallucinating off these products. They're getting side effects, which is basically producing aggression and they're fighting with police officers. People are committing harmful acts against themselves and others so to say are these really bath salts? Its common sense, no they're not," Anemone said.

Despite finding bath salts in local smoke shops, TPD hasn't had any reported bath salt cases. But because the safety concerns are so great, officers are placing a high priority on getting them out of here.

So far, police say all the owners have voluntarily turned in their bath salt products. But TPD hasn't gone into every store yet, so some may still be selling it. After TPD's community response team makes the initial visit to a store and identifies the bath salts, that business has a one-week  "grace period" to get rid of the drugs.

A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that the officers were undercover.