Mid-Missouri Law Enforcement Battles Bath Salts

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BELLE - As "bath salts" make news around the country regarding "zombie attacks" and other violent outbursts, Missouri is experiencing its own problems with the popular synthetic drugs. A Kansas City woman made national news after a biting attack, while another Missouri man got caught stealing the drugs in the same week.

Specifically, Mid-Missouri is trying to corral the issue. The Boone County Sheriff's Department concluded a months-long investigation this week that led to the confiscation of products from a Boone County convenience store.

Major Tom Reddin suspects those products contain bath salts, but he said the department only first questioned as much after a string of robberies targeted at those products gave officers reason to investigate.

"Proprietors of convenience stores may be mislead by the distributors of manufacturers of this," Reddin said. "At times, they are provided with a letter or a lab report that says, 'Here, it's okay to sell this,' when it really contains illegal substances."

Missouri state law banned bath salts in 2011, but manufacturers have found a way to alter the chemical compositions of substances in order to sell them legally.

One Mid-Missouri town took notice this past week and outlawed bath salts of any kind. Belle, MO has a population of just 1,500 people, but its police department ran into enough bath salts cases to call for change. Soon after, Mayor Steve Vogt and Belle City Council approved a new law outlawing bath salts.

"[Bath salts] have the potential to be abused more because they are so readily available," said Vogt. "We think this is more specific than the state law. It will address a wider scope of possibilities."

Vogt said nearby counties and towns have inquired about Belle's new law with a desire to perhaps implement the same.