Seffner, Florida - Stores often sell spices for cooking, but on Friday morning at the Country Food Store in Seffner, undercover detectives with the Hillsborough Sheriff's office carried out bags and bags of synthetic marijuana- also known as Spice.
The store at the intersection of MLK and Pine Street was just one of 12 raided Friday by investigators from the Sheriff's Office and the state. Detectives say the stores were openly selling the stuff-right along with candy and chips.
"You know what it is? It's an open air drug market. It's just that simple," said Maj. Tom Feeney at an afternoon news conference.
With colorful labels, often featuring cartoon characters, drug enforcement officers fear for the safety of kids.
"Ultimately, what's that impact going to be up here in your brain?" said Feeney pointing to his head.
Still, some people, like store customer Kelly Smith, are convinced spice is safe.
"It gives you a little five minute buzz," she described. "I don't see anything wrong with it. If not, people are going to start turning to pot- which is illegal."
In the past, Spice makers simply changed the formula to skirt the law, but the Sheriff's Office is testing a new one that makes the seizure of chemical "look a-likes" possible.
The raids today took an estimated half million dollars of product off the shelves and 15 clerks were arrested on a 3rd-degree felony charge of maintaining a store to sell a controlled substance.
However, just minutes after detectives turned off the electronic "Open" sign and padlocked the door of the Seffner store, two men with keys to the place opened it back up. But they were in no mood for talking, one man shouting at 10 News, "I tell you move. My property- move."
And with convenience stores on corner after corner, stemming the Spice tide is a wave hard to hold back.
"What I can tell you is standby. This show's not over," Feeney vowed.