The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is conducting a second phase of what’s called “Project Synergy” to take down global synthetic drug networks and supplies. Iowa City police confirm at least one business there was targeted as part of the project.
Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy spokesman, Dale Woolery, says he can’t talk about the details of the ongoing DEA operation, but says it’s good news. “I think it’s encouraging that as of late we’ve seen a great deal of activity on a variety of fronts — local, state, federal — in criminal actions, civil actions, court rulings and there have been a lot of education and prevention efforts,” Woolery says. “And I think it all bodes well for the awareness of the danger of synthetic drugs.”
The Iowa Legislature approved legislation and the governor signed it into law to ban several types of synthetic drugs. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced a consumer fraud lawsuit in April against two Des Moines convenience store owners accused of selling synthetic drugs. The efforts to educate about the dangers of synthetic drugs got rolling following the 2010 death of 18-year-old David Rozga of Indianola — who committed suicide after smoking the then legal drug K-2 or synthetic marijuana.
Woolery says the federal effort is another step. “It think that’s all indicative of a lot of work that’s been going on behind the scenes and it’s kind of been bubbling to the surface here in the last few weeks,” Woolery says. “That work will continue at the local, state, federal and I’m told, international levels.”
He believes the efforts are making some progress. “The number of calls that we get and that some other agencies get, seemed to have dropped,” Woolery says. But he says drug issues are like trying to get rid of dandelions in your lawn, you have to keep working at it and remain vigilant to catch them when they pop up. And the says the changing nature of synthetic drugs is like trying to battle an advanced form of dandelion. “They can multiply so quickly and they just keep changing. So, it’s encouraging that we have all these activities — enforcement efforts and others that are going on. And we hope that will make Iowans safer by reducing the number and types of these synthetic drugs that are actually being sold in our state,” Woolery says.
The first DEA Project Synergy included searched of stores in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Waterloo.