Gaffney couple, former employee arrested on drug charges

acoyne@thestate.comJune 26, 2013 

— A Gaffney couple and their former employee have been charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute synthetic drugs, including bath salts, as part of an ongoing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration crackdown on the substances.

Steven David Petty,42, and Sirena Petty, 39, were arrested in Gaffney Wednesday morning. Jessica Owen Weast, 27, of Ellenboro, N.C., worked for the Pettys in the past and was arrested in North Carolina this morning. The Pettys own Carousel Music in Gaffney, which sells, among other things, CDs, tobacco accessories and herbal incense, and Smokers Edge in Shelby, N.C., which also sells tobacco accessories and products.

An undercover DEA agent bought synthetic drugs from Smokers Edge multiple times before Wednesday’s arrests, a South Carolina U.S. Attorney’s press release said.

Searches of the Pettys’ home and businesses were just three of many search warrants executed today in “Project Synergy,” a DEA program targeting the manufacture and sale of synthetic drugs. The searches of the Pettys’ home and businesses yielded $800,000 in cash, along with $600,000 seized from nine bank accounts held by the couple, the release said.

Steven and Sirena Petty had bond hearings at 2 p.m. Wednesday and Weast had a bond hearing at 4 p.m. Wednesday, but their bond was not available Wednesday evening.

Bath salts and other sythentic drugs such as K2 and Spice were outlawed in 2011 in South Carolina. That same year, DEA began classifying bath salts as in the same category as other addictive controlled substances such as heroin and LSD.

The fight against synthetic drugs has been challenging because the drug makers continually change the chemcial makeup to skirt the legal definitions of sythentic drugs.

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