Upstate Couple Busted in Largest Synthetic Drug Raid in South Carolina

shutterstock_136499210Federal Investigators Busted Gaffney Couple in Massive Synthetic Drug Raid

A Gaffney couple, along with one of their former employees, has been busted in a raid in Upstate South Carolina. Investigators are calling it the largest synthetic drug bust in the Upstate area.

Steven Petty, 42, and his wife Sirena Petty, 39, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute synthetic drugs. The couple owns Carousel Music and Smokers Edge in Shelby, NC. One of their former employees, 27-year-old Jessica Owen Weast, faces similar charges.

The couple was arrested on Wednesday, June 26th, after federal agents raided their home, as well as both their businesses. Agents found 20,000 packages of synthetic drugs, including some of the most notorious – K2, bath salts, and spice.

During the press conference, Drug Enforcement Agents hefted evidence bags stuffed with cash – officers found $1.4 million in the Pettys’ possession, including $800,000 in their home – and several $100 bags of the Pettys’ “House Blend” synthetic drugs, which had innocuous names like apple, peach, banana, cherry lime, fruit punch, Razz Berry, Casey Jones, and Purple Haze.

The bust was part of a massive national crackdown on designer and synthetic drugs. Federal and local authorities joined forces in South Carolina as part of a national initiative called Project Synergy. It is the largest synthetic drug crackdown to date, and includes over 300 executed search warrants and 150 arrest warrants. A synthetic drug roundup in North Carolina, which was part of this initiative, led to 30 drug charges.

If the Pettys and Ms. Weast are found guilty on the federal drug charges, they face up to 20 years in prison each, and a $1 million fine.

The investigation into the Pettys’ synthetic drug operation began in 2012, according to the DEA. Several undercover agents purchased synthetic drugs at the Pettys’ stores.

Synthetic drugs are often intentionally mislabeled in order to skirt drug laws. They also tweek the chemical content of the drugs just slightly in order to skirt federal or local drug legislation, which allows drugs like synthetic pot to remain legal and unregulated. This leads to wide availability, and teenagers purchasing and consuming the drugs freely.

“There is no rhyme or reason on how they make these drugs,” said Thomas Nuse, DEA special agent in charge for South Carolina.

Because of the rising popularity of the drugs, in 2010 there were 11,400 emergency room visits. That number more than doubled in 2012, to 28,000.

According to the DEA, a single tiny, foil packet of “House Blend” like that produced by the Pettys is worth $20 to $30, and a kilogram can be worth as much as $250,000.

The Strom Law Firm Can Defend Against Charges Involving Synthetic Drugs

If you or a loved one have been found with a synthetic drug, such as synthetic marijuana, K2, or spice, you could face criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony, depending on how much of the drug was on your person, and what your intent was with the drug. The drug crimes attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Do not let charges for synthetic drugs hurt your reputation or your future aspirations. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today for help. 803.252.4800