Illegal bath salts lead to three arrests
On Friday, the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Narcotic Unit arrested three local business owners for selling "bath salts."
These are unlike Epsom salts and are not the type of bath salts that are used in bathtubs. Instead, these "bath salts" are synthetic drugs that contain chemicals similar to amphetamines.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of the chemicals used to make the bath salts are illegal.
The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act makes it illegal to possess, use or distribute many of the chemicals used to make bath salts, including Mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Methylone, another such chemical, remains under a DEA regulatory ban.
"I want our citizens to know how dangerous these synthetic drugs are that are being made by chemists," said Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis. "When the law first came out in 2011, the chemists changed their compounds to some substances that were not illegal, and they did the same thing in 2012 when the law changed. As chemists make these synthetic drugs they change the chemical makeup of the drugs."
Rutherford County deputies began investigating three local businesses in July 2011 after particular chemicals in bath salts were made illegal by the state of North Carolina.
Mustang II in Forest City, Sai Mart in Rutherfordton and Puff N Stuff in Forest City are the three shops where the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office Narcotic Unit seized the bath salts.
In July 2011, the bath salts were submitted to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for analysis.
The Sheriff's Office received the test results last week from the NCSBI Crime Lab, which confirmed that the bath salts the businesses were selling contained illegal chemicals.
"With each product, there are some that are illegal and some that are legal," Francis said. "We do make checks and we do seize items and send them off to see if they are continually compliant with the law or not. Any time they are not compliant we will make those arrests."
Tehsin Khan, 39, of Beechwood Drive in Newton, is the owner of the Mustang II. He was charged with one count possession with the intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance and had 50 jars of MDPV. Khan received a $15,000 unsecured bond.
Snehal Janak Desal, 27, of Maple Street in Rutherfordton, is the owner of Sai Mart. He was charged with one count trafficking MDPV and received a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Robert Shannon Cox, 36, of Swing Boulevard in Mooresboro, is the owner of Puff N Stuff. He was charged with one count possession with the intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance and had nearly 39 jars of Methylone. Cox received a $15,000 unsecured bond.
Deputies also seized more than $7,000 in cash from the three business owners.
"Substances that people may see some of these businesses sell, whether these substances are legal or not has nothing to do with how extremely dangerous they are," Francis said.