By Gary Lloyd
WASHINGTON — A national takedown on the synthetic designer drug market was carried out today, and one location was in the area.
A residence on Falling Creek Lane in Grayson Valley was raided Wednesday morning.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, IRS and other federal, state and local partners announced the culmination of Project Synergy Phase II, an ongoing effort targeting every level of the dangerous global synthetic designer drug market. Since January and leading up to early Wednesday morning, nationwide enforcement operations have taken place targeting these drug trafficking organizations that have operated in communities across the country.
The second phase of the Project Synergy, which began January, culminated Wednesday morning in 29 states, involves more than 45 DEA offices serving nearly 200 search warrants. As of today, more than 150 individuals have been arrested and federal, state and local law enforcement authorities have seized hundreds of thousands of individually packaged, ready-to-sell synthetic drugs as well as hundreds of kilograms of raw synthetic products to make thousands more. Additionally, more than $20 million in cash and assets were seized. These numbers are expected to grow as investigations continue.
In addition to targeting retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, many of these investigations continued to uncover the massive flow of drug-related proceeds to countries in the Middle East, including Yemen, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as other countries. Investigations also targeted many trade implements such as organic leaves and packaging material used in preparation for drug re-sale and distribution. These facilitators are key players in the designer drug industry.
Designer synthetic drugs have caused significant organ damage as well as overdose deaths. Over the past five years, DEA has identified between 200 and 300 new designers drugs from eight different structural classes, the vast majority of which are manufactured in China.
“Many who manufacture, distribute and sell these dangerous synthetic drugs found out first hand today that DEA will target, find and prosecute those who have committed these crimes,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “The success of Project Synergy II could not have been possible without the assistance of our state, local and foreign law enforcement partners. We stand united in our commitment to aggressively pursue criminals who are all too willing to experiment on our children and young adults.”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in a news conference today said 10 Alabama counties, including Jefferson, were involved in Project Synergy. Bentley said these drugs are “destroying lives” and he will work to “rid” the state of them.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.