ABILENE, Texas - Despite a major crackdown, synthetic drug dealers keep trying to sell in Taylor County.
In June, Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge met with assistant attorneys general to discuss the synthetic drug epidemic and learned the packaging of local products violated state and federal statutes.
Head shops are no longer permitted to sell synthetic drugs and four were forced to close in June after city officials realized the owners never obtained certificates of occupancy. Because of a city ordinance passed June 13th, head shops have a little less than four months to relocate to commercial or industrial areas.
But the sale of synthetic drugs outside of head shops has not ended.
"We have received several reports of persons selling these products that resulted in several arrests made at a south side motel," Standridge said. "We also received information that some persons were selling this product outside of their home and we did an investigation on that and took enforcement."
Best Western employees on Ridgemont Drive called police about the issue Tuesday. Patricia Rodriguez, a front desk receptionist, said the on-duty clerks kept a close eye on one suspect who checked in.
"He said he was here for work and there was a lot of people in and out of his room and that's what caused suspiciousness to us and we would call his room and he wouldn't answer and that's another red flag," Rodriguez said. "We have our regular guests that come here who, you know, they're always talking about how safe it is around here and we just don't want that kind of activity here."
According to an arrest report at least one suspect, 29-year-old Fountain Bullard, was a former employee of the now closed Hippy Express head shop.
"Regarding the south side hotel, I understand that several persons went to jail for outstanding arrest warrants they were also charged with nuisance violations for selling these products," Standridge said. "They also can face charges for deceptive business practices and so the reality is--anything that is legally applicable, we may prosecute."
Standridge said he hopes the state will soon update its banned chemicals list. He also hopes the legislature will discuss synthetic drugs in the special session and ban chemical analogues associated with synthetic drugs.