ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — A Franklin County Narcotics Unit investigation has led to the arrest of a St. Charles man and the seizure of about 200 pounds of psychedelic mushrooms, authorities said.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said in a Tuesday press release the narcotics unit's investigation of illegal narcotic trafficking led them to identify a suspect and stop him on May 12 while he was transporting drugs.
Erik Hunter, 29, was arrested and taken to the Franklin County Adult Detention Facility. A warrant was later issued against Hunter for delivery of a controlled substance, with a bond set at $25,000.
Further investigation led detectives to serve search warrants on three locations in St. Charles County, including the suspect's home, where they found a "fully operational psilocybin grow lab," according to the release. Inside the lab were numerous containers of psilocybin mushrooms in different stages of growth, the sheriff's office said.
Detectives also searched a storage unit registered to the suspect and seized about 200 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms. According to the sheriff's office, the total "street value" of the mushrooms is around $525,000.
The lab was located inside a "large fully occupied" apartment complex. The sheriff's office said psilocybin exposes people to potentially high concentrations of fungal spores.
"Inhalation of fungal spores can cause a wide range of respiratory issues and be fatal to individuals with pre-existing pulmonary conditions," the sheriff's office said.
The Franklin County Narcotics Unit has noticed a recent trend involving psychedelic drugs, the sheriff's office said, with the seizure of drugs such as DMT, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and MDMA (ecstasy) "dramatically" increasing over the last 18-24 months. The unit has also dismantled a fully operational DMT lab and large-scale psilocybin cultivation lab in recent months.
"The consumption of psychedelic drugs can have a lasting adverse effect on an individual, while the production and cultivation of such drugs can cause a serious risk to the health and safety for those who are unknowingly exposed," the sheriff's office said.
Anyone wanting more information on psychedelics or with other drug-related questions can call the Franklin County Narcotics Unit at 636-583-2560 or 636-239-9700.
The St. Charles County Drug Task Force assisted in the operation.