Hobbs Police Department Returns Seized Product to Local Shop

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

HOBBS, N.M. - A cat and mouse game, that's how the Hobbs Police Department describes smoke shops that sell spice. A few months ago, the Hobbs Police Department conducted a sting on local smoke shops that sell synthetic spice. After sending the spice to a lab, the department was informed that a component was modified making it legal to sell.

"By changing that formula, it doesn't necessarily change the affects on the person or on the body or the dangers of it, it just skirts the law, it allows them to continue selling it," Interim Chief, Chris McCall, said.

McCall says they seized a large quantity of spice during a sting at the Up In Smoke Shop, where the officer was coached on the different ways to smoke the product by a store employee. That was all the evidence they needed to confiscate the spice. After the seizure, they sent it to lab but the results were not what they were expecting.

"We sent that product to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory, they analyzed the substance and that substance came back with no illegal traits to it currently," McCall said.

It's a scenario that's happened too often. By constantly changing the ingredients in spice, sellers are able to dodge the law which make it perfectly legal to sell the synthetic drugs for illegal purposes.

"With this substance, it's very common for the distributors to go in and change a small compound within the substance that takes it just inside the law to where it's not illegal," McCall said.

McCall says it can feel like a game of cat and mouse with some of the vendors and distributors but they will continue to look for ways to outlaw the synthetic drug in Hobbs.

"They are changing them as quickly as we can identify them. Those efforts will continue, some of the products that are out there may not be able to be sold in the immediate future. We are trying to identify as many of the chemical make-ups as we can of these substances and get those added to the list that would outlaw them," McCall said.

NewsWest 9 contacted the owner of Up In Smoke Shop, he didn't want to give an on-camera interview, but told NewsWest 9 that his business complies with all federal and state laws, as well as city ordinances.