The storage facility just past the quaint frame houses and antiques shops pressed against New Market’s Main Street held more than furniture and heirlooms that could no longer fit into people homes.

Authorities say Unit 3019, steps from the main office, was being used to package the latest fad in designer narcotics — synthetic drugs sold as benign bath salts and herbal potpourri, with names such as "Snowblind Bath Salts," "Zombie World" and "Dark Night Sampler."

A recent arrest in Howard County led federal drug agents to the town this month. At New Market Mini Storage, court documents say, agents seized two barrels of white powder, a stimulant that when inhaled produces an effect similar to cocaine; and packages of the recently banned drug "K2"or "spice," doctored vegetable matter commonly marketed as synthetic marijuana.

Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have not arrested the man who rented the storage unit, but a search warrant filed in U.S. District Court details an investigation that spans the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas.

Public health officials are concerned about the surge in the use of synthetic drugs such as "bath salts" because they are unregulated by the government. People believe the synthetic drugs are a safe alternative, and they're widely available on the Internet.

"This is nothing new, but it's part of the newest wave of designer drugs," said Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the health officer for Howard County.

Beilenson, the former health commissioner in Baltimore, said dealers try to bypass government regulation by varying chemical compounds. "The bigger issue is that it's completely unregulated."

Though called "bath salts," the drug does not contain the ingredients of traditional bath salts found in conventional stores. There "can be any number of toxic substances," Beilenson said. "You don't know what you are getting."

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