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SC Couple Arrested In Federal Drug Probe

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File photo of a police cruiser with its lights on. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a police cruiser with its lights on. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina couple and their former employee are being charged with operating stores that sold synthetic drugs.

Authorities say 42-year-old Steven Petty and his 39-year-old wife, Sirena Petty of Gaffney, S.C. were charged Wednesday with conspiracy to possess and distribute synthetic drugs.

The couple owns Carousel Music in Gaffney and Smokers Edge in Shelby, N.C.

A former employee, 27-year-old Jessica Weast of Ellenboro, N.C. is facing similar charges.

If convicted, they face 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Agents say they also seized about $1.4 million from the Pettys, including $800,000 in cash from their home.

The three arrests were part of a massive Drug Enforcement Administration crackdown that targeted the upper echelon of dangerous designer synthetic drugs. All told, law enforcement Wednesday executed over 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 states, 49 cities and five countries.

The crackdown is aimed at sending a message to people who sell synthetic drugs: “What you’re doing is illegal,” U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said at a news conference in Greenville, S.C.

He said synthetic drugs, sometimes called bath salts and Spice, are intentionally mislabeled.

“Bath salts are not bath salts at all,” he said.

Federal officials in Charlotte also announced five men who owned a local smoke shop were arrested on similar charges.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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