The manufacturing, sale and use of what are known as synthetic drugs has been an important topic in the media of late. The surge of synthetic drug use and subsequent hospitalizations has led to a number of lawmakers demanding that action be taken to stem the tide of dangerous chemicals coming into the United States. The chemicals used to make synthetic drugs are made in China, with little oversight and no one testing to see if the compounds are safe for human consumption.
Every time lawmakers or federal agencies ban synthetic drugs or the chemicals used to make them, the chemists simply change the formula to elude officials. And, until recently, the Chinese government has done little to aid the American effort to put a stop to the manufacturing and use of the insidious chemicals.
Here is how it typically works. The chemicals are synthesized in China; the chemicals are then purchased by people overseas who ultimately spray the chemicals on plant matter (synthetic marijuana) or salt crystals (bath salts). The synthetic cannabis and bath salts are then packaged, labeled and sold. While the packaging clearly states on the packets, “not for human consumption,” the warning hardly deters use.
People who use synthetic drugs are subject to a host of negative side effects that often require medical assistance. It is extremely easy to overdose on synthetic drugs and the symptoms can be and have been fatal at times. Because synthetic drugs are so cheap to acquire, they appeal greatly to young people and the impoverished. The most commonly used form of synthetic drugs are synthetic cannabinoids, the most popular of which are sold under the name “Spice” or “K2.” Unlike traditional marijuana, synthetic cannabis is extremely dangerous.
As was mentioned earlier, the government is determined to put a stop to the synthetic drug industry, which has not proved easy. Law enforcement officials have also been doing their part to curb the use of these pernicious substances, by going after the people making and selling synthetic drugs.
Last week, a 41-year old man from Newport Beach, California plead guilty to drug, weapons and money laundering charges, The Los Angeles Times reports. Prosecutors alleged that Sean Libbert was leader of synthetic drug ring which distributed more than $12 million worth of synthetic drugs.
“The investigation in this case revealed that this defendant controlled an organization that was one of the largest importers and distributors of dangerous, synthetic drugs in the nation,” said U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker. “Over the course of only 16 months, this organization smuggled well over 600 pounds of chemicals into the U.S., knowing that the drugs would be used to manufacture synthetic marijuana or ‘spice.'”
Libbert will serve at least six years behind bars.
Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. Based out of Orange County, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with crimes in state and federal court.
Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower online or by telephone at 714-997-4400.