WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Ten suspects were indicted on drug charges stemming from a massive drug distribution ring involving smokable synthetic cannabinoids (SSC) or synthetic marijuana on Wednesday, according to United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.
The scheme, which operated in all five boroughs of New York City, allegedly involved the unlawful importation of at least 100 kilograms of illegal synthetic compounds, an amount sufficient to produce approximately 1,300 kilograms of dried SSC product, or approximately 260,000 SSC retail packets, the U.S. attorney said.
"Today, we launch an aggressive assault on a public health crisis that is reaching epidemic proportions: the scourge of dangerous new drugs that are killing people and sending thousands upon thousands to emergency rooms in New York City and around the country," Bharara said in a statement. "Despite sometimes being called synthetic marijuana, this is not marijuana – it can have unpredictably severe and even lethal effects."
The scheme involved the unlawful importation, manufacture, and distribution of massive quantities of SSC's, containing controlled substances, throughout the New York City area and elsewhere.
The SSC retail packets were sold under names such as “AK-47,” “Blue Caution,” “Green Giant,” “Geeked Up,” “Psycho,” “Red Eye,” and “Black Extreme,” each containing between approximately three and six grams of product, and sometimes marked “not for human consumption,” or “potpourri.” The illegal SSC retail packets were sold to individual customers for approximately $5 per packet, the U.S. attorney said.
“There is a misconception that synthetic cannabinoids, known on the street as ‘synthetic marijuana,’” ‘K2,’ and ‘spice,’ are safe. Synthetic cannabinoids are anything but safe," DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said in a statement. "They are a toxic cocktail of lethal chemicals created in China and then disguised as plant material here in New York City. Today’s arrests represent law enforcement’s efforts to combat this emerging public threat."
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