Smokedale Tobacco shop in Oakdale raided by federal agents

A local tobacco shop was reportedly raided by federal drug agents on Wednesday, as part of a multi-state sweep of such businesses.

According to Owen Putman, public information officer for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Chicago Field Division, which includes Minnesota and Wisconsin, search warrants were executed at five locations in the two states, including the Smokedale Tobacco shop on 10th Street N. in Oakdale.

Putman said a search warrant was also executed at Smokedale's warehouse, located just a few doors down from the Oakdale shop, as well as at Smokedale shops in Minneapolis and Hudson and at an address in Afton, Minn.

Looking for synthetics

The U.S. DEA's office issued a press release Wednesday announcing it was pursuing "the largest-ever synthetic drug takedown," involving nationwide enforcement actions to target synthetic drugs. The press release states the series of enforcement actions included retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officers executed more than 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 states, according to the press release.

According to the DEA, the drugs targeted are typically marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner or plant food, and can have dangerous consequences. The synthetic drugs have caused "significant abuse, addiction, overdoses, and emergency room visits," according to the press release. Additionally, the release states synthetic drugs can cause serious medical conditions, including seizures and heart arrhythmia, as well as organ damage and death.

The popularity of these synthetic drugs has risen in recent years, especially among teens and young adults, due to their availability, according to the DEA. Smokable herbal blends can provide a marijuana-like high, but in many cases are stronger and more dangerous than marijuana, the press release states.

Putman said as of now DEA officials aren't releasing any additional information about the specific raids in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The owner of Smokedale Tobacco in Oakdale could not immediately be reached for comment. The shop was open for business on Thursday.

-Alex Holmquist

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