Gloucester men to spend years in prison on spice charges

Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-26 18:19:03-05

Two employees of a Gloucester smoke shop will spend several years in federal prison for selling synthetic drugs including spice and bath salts.

A federal judge sentenced Shawn Woodlen to more than four years in prison, and Jose Alvarado has been sentenced to nearly seven years for their participation in selling synthetic drugs at "A Lil' This N A Lil That" in Gloucester.

In April authorities arrested Woodlen, Alvarado, the store's owners and several more at the nearby store Hazy Daze.  It followed a lengthy investigation by several agencies called Operation Direct Pressure.  Nearly 50 officers including hazmat and emergency management crews helped with the raids that ended in a dozen arrests.

In November, federal agents ended a two-year spice and bath salts investigation at bonsai shops in Yorktown and Hampton. Authorities arrested the owner and four of his employees on federal narcotics charges.

While these federal cases are making progress, a recent NewsChannel 3 investigation uncovered a loophole in state law that's allowing versions of spice to still be sold in stores.

The Virginia State code banning spice lists several chemical compounds spice makers spray on plant materials to create a marijuana-like high.  However, if those specific chemicals do not show up in tests, it likely will not end in any charges.

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