DEA bust at metaphysical store

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Federal agents arrested the 71-year old manager of Mystic Enchantments on April 13. The manager, Letha Dean, has been charged with selling synthetic cannabinoids.

A cannabinoid acts in the brain to produce the effects of marijuana; these drugs are manufactured versions, rather than organic. Unlike marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids can have serious negative health consequences. On the street, people frequently call synthetic cannabinoids “K2” or “spice” among other names.

A few reports have described Mystic Enchantments as a “metaphysical store.” It is not clear, however, if Mystic Enchantments functioned as a metaphysical store in Springfield; nor is it clear what relationship, if any, that store had with the Pagan community.

According to a Department of Justice press release, an undercover agent purchased 520 packets of “suspected synthetic cannabinoid for $5,000.” Other agents waited for this undercover agent to leave the store with the alleged drugs. They then entered the store and arrested Dean. A further search found 1,445 packets of suspected cannabinoids in the back room. In total, agents found about 11.8 kilograms of suspected synthetic cannabinoids.

The investigation was led by members of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Agents of the DEA and IRS, as well as Illinois state and local law enforcement, have participated in that task force. Prosecutors have used the investigations of that task force to indict seven men for “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute a controlled substance.” Dean is the eighth person indicted.

The Department of Justice has alleged links among these seven men. As of press time, it has alleged no links between Dean and any of the other suspects. No one has yet alleged linkage between the packets found in Mystic Enchantments and anyone sickened by synthetic cannabinoids.

Information included in the magazine High Times — the publishers of which are no supporters of the war on drugs — presents synthetic cannabinoids as highly dangerous, and described as “chemicals that bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, but they aren’t cannabinoids.” Some batches contain rat poison. In a High Times report it’s stated that five Midwestern states have experienced an epidemic of synthetic cannabinoid-associated bleeding. This outbreak has been most severe in Illinois, with over 100 hospitalized by press time. Three people from Illinois have already died from this outbreak.

The seven men have been charged with selling, or conspiring to sell, synthetic cannabinoids from retail stores. The names of the alleged sites are JB’s, United Discount, Gold Star, Handy Pantry, Cigar Outlet, Tobacco Express, and BJ’s Mini-Mart. Their names suggest an emphasis on tobacco and low-end retail stores.

A metaphysical store would have served a very different set of consumers than these retail stores do. The Facebook page of Mystic Enchantments was the only source for its label as a “metaphysical store.” That Facebook page is no longer available. 19 phone calls to the store over a four-day period went unanswered. The store has no known email address.

Springfield has a local Pagan group called the Springfield Area Pagans. By press time, that group did not respond to requests for information. It was possible, however, to examine their Facebook page for any mention of Mystic Enchantments. In the last 12 months, their Facebook page mentioned 10 different retail stores, including several metaphysical or occult stores, but there was no mention of Mystic Enchantments, and no mention of Dean’s arrest.

By press time, TWH could not confirm the claim that the store functioned as a metaphysical store or the store’s relationship, if any, to the local Pagan community.