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Federal Agents Uncover Illegal Bath Salts Operation

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NEW MARKET, Md. (WJZ)—Growing problem. The feds raid a storage shed in Maryland and uncover an illegal bath salts operation.

Weijia Jiang explains what bath salts are and how easy it is for your children to get their hands on it.

Police say they not only found the drug, they found it being packaged right in the heart of small town New Market.

Inside a unit at a New Market storage facility, federal drug agents seize a large amount of the latest fad in designer drugs. They’re called bath salts.

“I would think ‘Calgon, take me away.’ There’s no way I’d think about drugs in New Market,” said Raimi Kellner, of New Market.

The white powder can pack a punch as powerful as cocaine with the same health risks.

“From speeded up heart rates to hypertension, high blood pressure, mania, panic attacks, even potentially heart attack and cardiac arrest,” said Peter Beilenson, Howard County health officer.

And even death.

Thirty-one-year-old Joey Baldwin’s family says he was hooked.

“If you’re doing the stuff, stop it,” said James Baldwin, victim’s father. “And if you haven’t done it, don’t. That’s all I can say about bath salts. It’s bad. It killed my boy.”

Police are also concerned with how easy it is to get bath salts. In fact we walked right into a smoke specialty shop in Fells Point that’s selling it for $35 a pack. WJZ found it even cheaper on the web and widely available.

State health leaders say the drug is still new to Maryland, but it’s catching on fast.

Nationally, no exposures to the drug were found in 2009. Last year, there were 302 cases. So far this year, more than 2,200 have been reported.

For now the ingredients used to make bath salts are legal. Many are pushing to change that.

“It’s a big deal,” said Thomas Morris, of New Market. “Government needs to move on this fast so it’s against the law.”

The man who rented the storage unit has not been arrested. Court documents show the seizure is part of an investigation across Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Bath salt chemicals have been banned in several states, including West Virginia, Florida and Louisiana.

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