Simpson, FDACS continue illegal substance sweep, netting nearly half a million illicit drug packages

by | Oct 19, 2023

  • Florida law enforcement and state regulators seized 2.5 tons of “gas station heroin” and synthetic THC, both illegal drugs in Florida
  • The seizures took place across four different distribution facilities and included nearly half a million individual packages of the drugs
  • Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson’s agency spearheaded the effort alongside the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Previous crackdown efforts netted tens of thousands of packages of illegal drugs packaged and marketed like popular children’s candy.

In a move to clamp down on illicit substances across Florida, Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson announced the seizure and destruction of approximately 5,000 pounds of raw and packaged tianeptine, often called “gas station heroin,” and THC-O, a synthetic form of the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The seizure took place at four Florida distribution facilities, where the items had previously been placed under stop-sale orders, a proactive measure to prevent potential harm to consumers.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement and Division of Food Safety were behind the seizure and destruction of the illegal products, which included both the finished goods and the raw materials used in their production.

“We will relentlessly pursue and use the full force of the law to combat the proliferation of narcotics and illicit substances that continue to be found across Florida,” Simpson said in a press release. “Thanks to coordination with local and state partners, as well as the Florida Legislature, we are protecting our communities, especially our children, from these dangerous products.”

Specific locations of the seizures include Atofil LLC in Cape Coral, where approximately 400,223 packages of THC-O products and around 35,961 packages of tianeptine products were found. Epic Wholesale and FNM Distributing in Fort Myers had smaller quantities of both products, while Summit Labs in Tampa had approximately 3,264 packages of THC-O products and around 9,614 packages of tianeptine products.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody had previously filed an emergency rule prohibiting the sale of tianeptine or “gas station heroin” in Florida. THC-O is recognized as a controlled substance under federal and state law. The announcement builds upon the department’s prior efforts, where over 1,900 tianeptine and THC-O products, along with 1,700 illegal hemp, THC-O, and Amanita Muscaria mushroom products, were seized from Florida businesses.

A previous summertime sweep dubbed “Operation Kandy Krush” entailed a week-long inspection sweep by FDACS, resulting in the confiscation of 68,689 hemp extract products specifically aimed at children. The products were packaged to look like popular candy, including Nerds, Gummi Bears and other products. That sweep encompassed more than 475 food establishments across 37 counties.

At the time, Simpson emphasized the state’s dedication to keeping communities safe.

“After the Florida Legislature worked this year to reform Florida’s hemp laws, this operation now sends a clear message that illegal and unsafe hemp products have no place in our state.”

The 2023 reform of Florida’s hemp laws, led by Simpson, State Senator Colleen Burton, and State Representative Will Robinson Jr., introduced stricter regulations to better protect consumers and children. Since July 1, over 98,000 such packages have been unearthed.


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