Crime Trackers: Spice is a problem on Tucson streets - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Crime Trackers: Spice is a problem on Tucson streets

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Tucson Police Department says spice, and not the kind you cook or bake with, is a big problem. Spice is synthetic marijuana, but the effects are similar to meth or cocaine.

It is a dangerous drug that Tucson police is battling with.

“This is where all our spice stuff happens, because there is a smoke shop there and a smoke shop right there,” Officer Doug Wilfert said.

The area Wilfert is talking about is 12th Avenue and Ajo Way. In between the two smoke shops, a tire shop sees the dark side of people on spice.

“I see it every day, people in the streets smoking it," said Gabriel Suarez, the owner of the tire shop.

Spice looks like herbal tobacco. It is made from dried plant material and chopped up herbs. Active ingredients are sprayed on it and that is causing issues.

Suarez said, he talks to the people who do use it and they told him it is cheap. The side effects can have damaging results, including death. 

“My understanding, a lot are dying," he said. "I've witnessed two so far, right here across the street, who have died.”

TPD is well aware of the problem. 

“We are inundated with calls, check welfares and problems that arise from the use of spice,” Sgt. Alon Hackett said.

Hackett did some research. He found that in the last 30 days there were over 30 cases. 

“We’re talking about a large amount of man hours that go into each and every single call," said Hackett. "That's time that we could be responding to people who really need our help for a problem. That is not their fault.”

Businesses are also feeling the effects. Some have closed down because of the spice problem. 

“A barber shop." said Suarez. "It became a problem for them, so they had to move out because who wants to take a child to get a haircut when you see that kind of activity going on.”

In the meantime, TPD has special deployments in the hot spots. 

Hackett wants to remind people smoking spice is playing Russian roulette. You never know what you are going to get or how it will affect you, because it is not regulated.

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