For years, storage facilities across the country have grappled with rogue tenants who’ve rented units to stash marijuana or make meth. Now, a new drug threat may be emerging.
Searches this month at two storage facilities in Mobile, AL, yielded 430 pounds of synthetic marijuana, also known as “fake pot” or “Spice,” worth more than $1.3 million. Tamer S. Foqahaa, 33, was arrested in the case and charged with trafficking illegal drugs, according to the Mobile Police Department.
In the first search, officers with Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team came across nearly 200 pounds of packaged Spice in a unit at a Public Storage facility on Mobile’s Azalea Road. That haul was valued at $614,000.
In the second search, narcotics officers discovered 235½ pounds of packaged Spice in a unit at a Public Storage facility on Mobile’s Hillcrest Road. Authorities pegged the value of this stash at $747,000.
In all, cops in Mobile seized tens of thousands of individual packets containing Spice, according to AL.com.
Both of the storage units belonged to Foqahaa, authorities said.
Mobile Police Chief James Barber said Spice “is the single most significant threat to the health and safety of the public since the crack cocaine epidemic that began in the 1980s. This is not only a health threat—we are seeing systemic issues of significant violent crimes in relation to the use of Spice.”
The Mobile case reportedly is the biggest-ever Spice bust on the Gulf Coast.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s a very significant bust, but have we removed it all from the streets? Absolutely not,” Mobile’s Fox10tv.com quoted Barber as saying. “We are just scratching the surface of what’s going on.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Spice refers to a variety of herbal mixtures that produce highs similar to marijuana and that are marketed as “safe,” legal alternatives to pot. Spice goes by many names, such as K2, Yucatan Fire, Skunk and Moon Rocks. These products contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that cause mind-altering effects.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Spice as a controlled substance. However, according to FindLaw.com, makers of the drug frequently change its chemical makeup to skirt federal laws.
In recent months, federal authorities have arrested more than 150 people in a nationwide crackdown on synthetic drugs in the Spice family. These synthetic drugs are sold at gas stations, at “head shops” and over the Internet, and typically appeal to teens and young adults.
Photo courtesy of Fox10tv.com