Updated, Tuesday 6:04 p.m.:
Officials said Tuesday morning that the isolation of the abandoned doughnut shop in Dunnellon may be the reason three men decided to operate and store $500,000 worth of K-2 spice there.
Police also said there was evidence the drugs may have been targeted to youth.
“As you can see behind me, there is this massive amount of confiscated K2 from the drug bust, and as you can see by the vibrant colors, it’s targeted toward children,” Sgt. Angy Scroble, public information officer for the Ocala Police Department, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Scroble said the reason for the location is still under investigation.
“It could be a very simple answer. It could be a very complicated answer,” she said.
The three men, two from Tampa and one from Texas, were in the process of loading for transport to Tampa, and the drugs were in plain view when officials arrived at the scene.
Scroble said it’s important for the community to get involved because in this case, the tip came from one citizen who reported suspicious behavior.
“Those citizens that have a knowledge and have information to give—we encourage them to keep contacting us,” she said. “We want to give credit to those people who come forward and help us do something like this.”
Judge Cochran, public information officer for Marion Country Sherriff’s Office, said some of the materials used to manufacture K2 can be bought legally in stores, but once they’re combined with actual drugs, they become illegal.
“This is more than $500,000 worth of the illegal drugs. (The suspects) had more than 11,000 packages of this stuff already manufactured and ready for the streets.”
Local and state law enforcement officers are continuing to investigate.
Updated, 12:29 p.m.: Investigators recovered more than $500,000 worth of the synthetic marijuana and the materials used to make it.
Original story, 6:17 a.m.: Marion County investigators say they’ve broken up a K2 operation and seized what they call “containers by the hundreds” of drugs and supplies to manufacture K2. K2 is a type of synthetic marijuana and goes by street names like “Black Mamba” and “Spice.” It’s typically a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material that’s then mixed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Marion County Sheriff’s Spokesman Judge Cochran says clues led to the closed Sunrise Donuts & Coffee at 10155 SW Highway 484 near Dunnellon where the complete K2 manufacturing set up was found.
Three men have been arrested: Ahmad Khaled Ahmad Warayat, Fares Rabah and Ahmed Mohsin. They’re being questioned.
Drug agents involved in the bust will give more details at a news conference later Tuesday. Law enforcement agencies in Marion County arrested 13 people and seized K2 from several stores last week.