On Wednesday, law officials delivered a huge blow to a major synthetic drug ring in New York, TIME reports. It is alleged that the ring unlawfully imported 100 kilograms of synthetic compounds used to make synthetic marijuana. There was enough material to produce about 260,000 drug packets which would retail for about $30 million.
Altogether, five synthetic drug processing facilities and warehouses were raided, along with more than 80 stores and bodegas around New York City, according to the article. Using commercial delivery routes, the compounds synthesized in China were shipped to a processing facility in the Bronx. The chemicals, along with other solvents, are sprayed onto tea leaves.
“Despite sometimes being called synthetic marijuana, this is not marijuana – it can have unpredictably severe and even lethal effects,” Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “What is more, use of these drugs aggravates all manner of other societal ills: it is entering prisons; preying on the homeless; burdening our hospitals and emergency rooms; fueling addiction; exacerbating mental health problems; and increasing risks to cops who must deal with people high on this poison. Synthetic cannabinoids are a deadly serious problem that demands an equally serious response.”