20 people, 2 businesses busted for spice in St. Pete - WFLA News Channel 8

20 people, 2 businesses busted for spice in St. Pete

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ST PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Twenty people were arrested, and two local shops fined, after the St. Petersburg Police Department conducted an undercover round-up of spice buyers and sellers.

They called it "Operation: POT-pourri" busting two convenience stores. Frog Eyes Smoke Shop at 6040 4th St. N. received a $21,500 fine and Mario's Meat Market at 3701 5th Ave. N. received a $23,000 fine.

St. Pete police say they've seen a trend of more synthetic marijuana - a.k.a. spice, K2, Eclipse, or Blaze - being sold and used.

Monthly arrests have nearly doubled since last year, mostly in the area of downtown St. Petersburg. Police often spot users by the telltale orange stains on their fingertips and the distinct smell of the drug.

Wednesday, police officers handed out flyers and warned passengers waiting at the 31st St. PTSA bus terminal to steer clear of the Spice trade.

"Let everyone know we're cracking down on spice," said Officer Courtney Zak. "Everybody's going to jail."

Police tell 8 On Your Side that street dealers purchase illegal synthetic pot from area convenience stores then repackage it as single cigarettes or "joints" and sell them for a dollar each to homeless people in downtown hangouts like Williams Park. The drug, which contains a varying list of mystery chemicals, sometimes causes bizarre behavior by users.

"They actually walk and look like zombies, "said Zak. "But once you get out with them they can fight like beasts."

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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