Cops in New Jersey scoped out a cannabis candy manufacturing ring for a year before they swooped in on December 19. They eventually fingered 24 individuals with criminal charges in an endeavor they called “Operation On the Ropes,” after the suspects’ use of Nerd Ropes in their extra-legal business scheme.
The suspects had been allegedly purchasing commercial candy like the Nerds products and Sour Patch Kids. They turned them into their own doctored, creatively monikered cannabis treats by pouring them into pans covered in parchment paper and, said the cops, “spraying” them with THC. Once the candies had been infused, police say the suspects had labeled the former products as “Stoner Patch” edibles.
The mastermind behind the operation was allegedly a 27-year-old from Freehold, New Jersey named Dylon Addvensky.
Police were particularly concerned that kids could be boondoggled into consuming the cannabis products.
“Colorful and sugary candy like what we seized are among the best selling edible pot products on the black market,” said Monmouth County prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni. “Counterfeit candy is making the rounds and they constitute an extreme danger to our community, particularly the children.”
The Monmouth County prosecutor’s office announced in a press conference on Tuesday that they had raided 21,000 pieces of candy, 1,100 pounds of marijuana, and around 6,500 flavored THC vaporizer cartridges in relation to the case.
Addvensky has been charged with running a narcotics trafficking network, plus drug distribution and conspiracy charges. One individual has been charged but not apprehended by authorities — allegedly, the person that oversaw the shipment of the THC products from California to New Jersey.
A Continuing Concern
This is not the first time that an operation has been detained by law enforcement that looked to turn commercial candy into THC-infused snacks. In the run up to Halloween, police from Peabody, Massachusetts announced they had detained an individual who had been doctoring Wonka bars, Nerds Ropes, and Rice Krispies Treats with THC. In June, a similar case was reported in West Virginia. In that instance, cops intercepted a multi-pound package of altered candies like Nerds Rope while the supply was transiting the state.
Each time, authorities issued a special warning to parents to protect their kids from doctored sweets.
Attracting young people to cannabis is precisely the motivating factor behind much of the nation’s strictest marijuana product packaging guidelines.
In some cases, this ban extends even to product names that could be appealing to kids. In San Francisco, dispensary chain Cookies — the town’s first Black-owned cannabis store — was forced to change its business name before opening its doors in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood so that it wouldn’t prove appealing to young sugar fiends.
In New Jersey, the cops seemed intent that kids wouldn’t be led into cannabis candy on their watch.
“It is all of our jobs to make sure our kids will not be fooled by the smoke screen of vapes infused with THC that could have a harmful effect on the development of the minds,” said Monmouth County chief of detectives John McCabe.