WASHINGTON – More than 300 search warrants and 150 arrest warrants were executed Wednesday in 33 states, targeting the upper echelon of designer synthetic drug trafficking organizations.
"Project Synergy" was announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The investigation, which began in December 2012, uncovered the massive flow of drug-related proceeds to several countries around the world. The enforcement actions targeted retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.
"The criminals behind the importation, distribution and selling of these drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits," said HSI Deputy Assistant Director Traci Lembke. "For criminal groups seeking to profit through the sale of illegal narcotics, the message is clear: we know how you operate, we know where you hide, and we will not stop until we bring you to justice."
Designer synthetic drugs are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner, or plant food, and have caused significant abuse, addiction, overdoses, and emergency room visits. Those who have abused synthetic drugs have suffered vomiting, anxiety, agitation, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. They have caused significant organ damage as well as overdose deaths.
Fourteen HSI offices were involved in today’s operation and included law enforcement partners in Australia, Barbados, Canada and Hong Kong as well as countless state and local law enforcement members.