K2 crackdown results in $12.5 million in product seized - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

K2 crackdown results in $12.5 million in product seized from gas stations

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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

Law enforcement officials this week raided gas stations in the Kansas City area suspected of selling the illegal synthetic drug known as K2.

Federal, state and local authorities have spent nearly a year working together to develop the major crackdown. Convenience stores and liquor stores were also included in the busts, which began on Tuesday.

"Most of them keep it behind the counter because they know it's illegal," said Jackson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Michael Hunt. "A lot of times when you walk in there, you have to know what you are asking for, and that tells you a lot right there."

He said law enforcement officials spent months putting together undercover buys in both Missouri and Kansas.

Altogether, 45 warrants were served on Tuesday. Officers made 31 arrests, seized nearly 25,000 packets of K2 and seized $100,00.

The raids were concluded by Thursday. Altogether, 926 pounds of product were seized and seven pounds of K2 chemical powder was seized. K2 is valued at $13,620 per pound so officials say more than $12.53 million in product was seized.

In addition, $306,143 in cash was seized and 44 people were arrested.

Officers entered each of the locations identified as sellers at the same time.

In Kansas City, KS, police focused on 11 businesses.

"A lot of these stores are tied together. So, obviously, we wanted to do everything at one time," KCK Police Department spokesman Officer Tom Tomasic said. "We didn't want to hit one store and have them call other stores we're looking at."

At first, some customers thought the gas stations were being robbed. They were surprised to learn the businesses were being targeted because clerks were allegedly selling K2 and were part of this widespread drug sting.

Robert Branecky had to look for gas elsewhere but said he was glad.

"I think it's about time they start cracking down on this and do something about it," he said.

Police say, in some cases, K2 is as much as 10 times stronger than marijuana and that numerous people have overdosed, or even died, from using this very dangerous drug.

After seeing the story, one viewer, who wanted to remain anonymous, called to say she has seen her 19-year-old son high on K2, and it frightened her. "He was very aggressive," she said. "I'm very pleased that they cracked down on the people selling it."

The investigation started 10 months ago and was initially launched by the Independence Police Department. Altogether, more than 20 different agencies were involved this week. Most of the charges will be filed in state court but some federal charges are expected.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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