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Lehigh Valley

Police sweep seizes banned substances at 13 shops

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The state-wide ban of synthetic drugs became effective on Tuesday, and local police conducted surprise visits at more than 100 retail locations two days later, seizing the banned substances from a dozen locations.

The Lehigh County District Attorney's office announced Friday that 116 establishments were included in the sweep on Thursday, and banned substances were seized at 13 locations.

They said the sweep ran from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and items were seized from throughout the county, from Allentown and Whitehall Township to Bethlehem and Slatington.

"Store owners and clerks had been asked to voluntarily take the substances of their shelves before the law went into effect this week," said D.A. James Martin.  "If owners continue to stock these substances and to sell them, police will charge them with a misdemeanor offense of possession or a felony offense of distribution, which can carry a penalty of five to 15 years in prison.  Owners would be wise to rid their stores of these substances and compounds to avoid future visits by police and prosecution."

Martin's office said nobody was arrested in the sweep, but all illegal substances were seized.

"Our intention was to get the word out that these substances are illegal and to warn clerks and store owners that these substances can't be sold or there will be consequences," said Martin.  "Our intention in the future is to charge those who possess and sell these items."

Martin's office said in the sweep, 750 packages of illegal substances, 30 boxes of cigars with suspect synthetic marijuana, and 150 packages of bath salts were all seized.

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