Ashland, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Federal agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation branch were seen outside JC Moon Wednesday morning just after 10, and shut down the shop for the rest of the day.
According to IRS Special Agent Rick Myrland, it's all part of "official business" related to an ongoing investigation.
"Our agents are being assisted by agents from the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Ashland County and City Sheriff's Department," said Myrland.
According to Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen, the reason behind the raid is clear to the city's residents.
"I don't think it's a hunch," said Mayor Whalen inside City Hall Wednesday, "I think we really know that's what it's all about: the synthetic drug problem... that we've had in this town."
Mayor Whalen says it wasn't too long ago that Ashland hosted public forums in which those affected by the sale of synthetic drugs from the head shop voiced their concerns.
Among the main concern: how it's impacting users.
"It's very hard to treat medically," said Mayor Whalen, recapping stories told my teenagers about their experiences with synthetics.
Those forums helped the Ashland City Council draft, and pass, two synthetic drug ordinances on September 23rd.
One defines a synthetic drug, and mandates that stores need a license to sell, while the other puts fines in place for any business considered a public nuisance.
For 25–year–old former synthetic addict Dan Halverson, the ordinances, and raid, are steps in the right direction to keeping synthetics out of Ashland.
"I could go in [to JC Moon] before just stoned out of my mind, not even able to count my money, throw it on the counter, and walk out with a package [of incense]," said Halverson, standing outside of the head shop's closed doors.
Halverson says he's been sober for 8 months now, and has never felt better. During his four year battle with addiction, Halverson said he lost everything--from money to friends.
"I hope they don't have to shut their store down," said Halverson, adding he has no qualms with the store as a whole, or the owner, "but I hope that they do realize... [they're] screwing up our community."
JC Moon could re–open as early as Thursday morning.
According to the Ashland City Council, JC Moon had a 15 day grace period to obtain a license to sell synthetic drugs.
Rather than buy a license, however, council members say they believe the store chose to stop the sale of synthetics.