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Gov. Bentley: 10 Alabama counties targeted in DEA's synthetic drug raids

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Governor Robert Bentley discussed a national synthetic drug takedown at a news conference in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (abc3340.com) Governor Robert Bentley discussed a national synthetic drug takedown at a news conference in Montgomery, Ala., Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (abc3340.com)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, along with over 35 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, have teamed together with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as part of a national synthetic drug takedown that has resulted in more than 38 arrests and the seizure of over 200 pounds of synthetic drugs, $500,000 in cash and bank accounts, and 19 guns.

Today’s takedown is part of the DEA’s Project Synergy, a national effort focusing on drug networks, sources of supply, and global money flow.  Since January and leading up to early this morning, nationwide enforcement operations have taken place targeting these drug trafficking organizations that have operated in communities across the country.

“Alabamians should know that synthetic drugs are dangerous to their health, and as Governor, I am going to do everything I can to rid Alabama of these drugs,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “I appreciate the partnership with our federal, state and local law enforcement officers to confiscate synthetic drugs in Alabama.”

“Today’s events represent the culmination of months of teamwork between state, local, and federal partners,” said Secretary Spencer Collier.  “Synthetic drugs are a rising problem in Alabama and in the nation.  I am proud that Alabama has led the nation in passing comprehensive legislation to combat this problem. ALEA will continue to work with our local and federal partners to disrupt the production and distribution of synthetic drugs.”

DEA’s Project Synergy

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), 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.

The Special Operations Division-coordinated Project Synergy initiative is aimed at bringing together federal, state, local, and international law enforcement resources to target the dangerous global synthetic designer drug industry through coordinated, united strategies.

“The manufacture, sale, and abuse of synthetic drugs represents a clear danger to our society.  These synthetic substances are designed and manufactured with no controls on the safety of the substance, and no goal other than generating a more powerful high for the user, and a larger profit for the individuals and organizations manufacturing and selling these highly dangerous drugs.  People who use Spice and other synthetics risk death at the hands of unknown, powerful chemicals that are generally produced in foreign labs with no thought for safety and the potential negative effects produced by these substances,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Brown.  “This investigation, combining the resources of the DEA, the State of Alabama, and our partners from dozens of local law enforcement agencies, should demonstrate to the citizens of Alabama that we as a society will not sit idly by while our young people are poisoned in the name of profit.”

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 and elsewhere.  Investigations also targeted many trade implements such organic leaves and packaging material used in preparation for drug re-sale and distribution. These facilitators are key players in this ever-changing designer drug industry.

Communities, families, and individuals across the United States have experienced the scourge of designer synthetic drugs, which are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner, or plant food. These dangerous drugs 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. 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.

Source:  News release from the Office of Governor Robert Bentley.

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