Drug chemicals seized in raid on Odessa warehouse
By Ronnie Blair | Tribune StaffODESSA - Investigators following a trail that led from Pasco County to an adult novelty store called Pam's Purple Door in Deadwood, S.D., have shut down a synthetic-drug lab in Odessa.
Published: August 8, 2012
Published: August 8, 2012
"This is an epidemic and we are taking it head on," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference last week.
The sheriff's office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided a warehouse at 2613 Merchant Drive, Suite A, on June 7, confiscating more than a ton of materials for making synthetic drugs, the sheriff said.
Federal authorities also seized $625,000 from bank accounts controlled by Bodies of Nature, the company that operated the warehouse.
"The quantity coming out of there was incredible," Nocco said.
Four men, including three from Pasco, were indicted this week by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analog, the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota announced.
Those indicted were: Bradley King Bostwick, 58, and his son, Garrett King Bostwick, 31, both of Land O'Lakes; Jason Michael Lawrence, 39, of Land O'Lakes; and Charlie William Caulder, 49, of Thomasville, Ga.
If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a possible $1 million fine.
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that Pam's Purple Door bought more than $206,000 in merchandise from Bodies of Nature between February 2011 and January 2012.
Among the synthetic narcotics Pam's Purple Door was selling was "Nightflight," which users say produces effects similar to methamphetamine.
Harley Kirwan, the owner of Pam's Purple Door, was arrested in January after synthetic marijuana and other stimulants were seized from the store, according to an article in the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal.
Nocco said the Odessa case was part of Operation Logjam, the DEA's nationwide crackdown on synthetic-drug labs, which was reported last week.
Details of this case, though, could not be revealed previously because the South Dakota indictments were pending, he said.
The sheriff's office became involved in the investigation last summer after authorities in South Dakota traced products that Pam's Purple Door was selling to Pasco County.
Bodies of Nature was importing synthetic-drug ingredients from China, making the synthetic drugs in the Odessa lab, then shipping them all over the country, the sheriff's office reported.
By March, the sheriff's office had substantiated what was happening at the warehouse in an industrial park off State Road 54, and in June authorities conducted the raid, the sheriff reported.
Sheriff's Sgt. Bill Davis said inside they found more than a ton of chemicals, 375,000 dosage units of the synthetic drug known as "bath salts" and boxes filled with packages for selling synthetic marijuana, which is sometimes known as K2 or Spice.
Investigators also encountered an overpowering smell of chemicals they said would have been harmful to anyone working there.
Nearby houses and adjoining businesses also could have been in danger if something ignited the chemicals and caused an explosion, Nocco said.
Yet the location was perfect for what the group had in mind, he said, because late-night deliveries to an industrial center warehouse would be unlikely to raise suspicions.
Synthetic drug sales have created a problem for law enforcement officials. The products often are sold in convenience stores because the chemical makeup allows sellers to skirt around state drug laws.
That's why the Odessa raid and similar arrests happened under a federal law that targets chemical analogs, which are chemicals that are substantially similar to controlled substances.
Meanwhile, the store in Deadwood that was selling the synthetic drugs has a history beyond its more recent incarnation as a souvenir and adult novelty shop, according to a 1997 article in Deadwood Magazine.
At one time, Pam's Purple Door was one of four brothels that operated openly in Deadwood, until May 1980, when federal and state authorities shut down the bordellos for good.