You don't often, if ever, see the federal authorities execute a drug sweep on a national basis, hitting drug locations in 35 different states and five countries all in the same day for the same drug enterprise. But DEA officials have done it recently in connection with the so-called largest synthetic drug bust ever. The focus in this raid is on two designer drug categories: synthetic marijuana and bath salts. Authorities, working alongside local enforcement agencies, served more than 150 arrest warrants for drug charges, including 11 in Louisiana.
The Louisiana arrests all were located in Terrebonne Parish, said the DEA's New Orleans office. One unidentified New Orleans man was arrested as a supplier. Authorities executed warrants at three businesses and seven residences, but identities were not immediately reported. They seized large quantities of synthetic marijuana, $500,000 to $600,000 in cash and four vehicles. News reports from other states have made similar assessments of substantial illicit drugs and money seized.
Charges included possession and possession with intent to distribute designer drugs. The operation was part of a global attack called Project Synergy. Agents simultaneously served 375 search warrants in 49 United States cities and also in other countries. Numerous other federal agencies were involved. The DEA announced that this was a priority for the agency.
Synthetic drugs are created in laboratories and packaged as novelty items such as bath salts, incense or jewelry cleaner. Their contents are not regulated and can differ from batch to batch. Marijuana substitutes are a little different because customers at least have some idea of what the product is supposed to do.
Federal criminal charges generally carry heftier sentences than Louisiana violations in those instances where a conviction is ultimately obtained. If you face these or similar drug charges in Louisiana -- whether federal or state – the best first step is to gain an understanding of the applicable laws and court procedures in order to determine what defenses and options may be available.
Source: The Times-Picayune, "DEA announces 'largest-ever' synthetic drug bust; 11 arrested in Louisiana," Michelle Hunter, June 26, 2013