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Arrests up as more illegal drug vape cartridges are found in Wake County

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — People see vaping almost every day, but in Wake County, law enforcement is seeing a different kind.

CBS 17 is getting answers on illegal drug vaping in Wake County, particularly with vape pens containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is linked to marijuana.

A sheriff’s deputy specializing in narcotics spoke anonymously with CBS 17 about this issue.

“It’s becoming a pretty big thing,” the deputy said. “What I’ve personally seen are folks that are doing it while they’re driving.”

According to Wake County sheriff’s officials, they’ve seen a large spike of THC vape pens in the last 18 months to two years.

“People can ship them, they can drive them here. There’s many different ways folks can get them here,” the deputy said. “I think, in terms of the pesticides and some of the things that are inside these vape cartridges, that’s becoming a big issue with people becoming sick and dying from it.”

In October, CBS 17 saw a North Carolina State Fair worker arrested and charged while deputies patrolled the fairgrounds overnight.

According to Sgt. John Moore of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, the worker had a THC vape cartridge, which is considered a felony.

CBS 17 also obtained arrest numbers from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office regarding THC vape pens in the county.

According to sheriff’s officials, in 2018, there were six arrests. So far in 2019, there have been 33 arrests.

“The law enforcement officer that’s encountering it, initially back in 2018, may not have known what they saw, or may have associated it with just regular vaping products,” the deputy said in response to the numbers. “Now, it’s just becoming more regular. They’re getting more training on it, and the arrests are increasing because they’re immediately noticing what it is.”

But it’s not just THC.

This week, deputies busted an operation where they believed the hallucinogenic DMT was made at a Wake Forest home. Detectives believe it was being put into vape pens.

“That was actually the first time I had seen DMT loaded into a vape cartridge. That is beyond belief to me,” the deputy said. “Very dangerous. A lot of chemicals that are involved in making that product.”

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