Natasha Vargas-Cooper

  • Photo by Nathaniel Wood

    Bath Salts: Deep in the Heart of America's New Drug Nightmare

    COLUMBUS, OH — On an unseasonably hot and muggy May afternoon, a squad of armed agents from the Franklin County Drug Task Force — some wearing street clothes, some wearing menacing ski masks — swarms into a storefront aptly named the Joint. Sandwiched between a liquor store and a sex shop, and adjacent to the Ohio State University campus, the Joint is one of 18 different head shops, gas stations, carryout restaurants, and mini-marts being searched this day by seven task force teams consisting of several dozen officers from numerous local police departments and prosecutors' offices, all spearheaded by the County Sheriff here in the state capital. Make no mistake: This is no ordinary pot bust. The raids are part of the ongoing Operation Synthetic Drugs, a highly coordinated and choreographed sweep through central Ohio.

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