Project Synergy Phase II Successfully Takes Down Synthetic Drug Operations Nationwide

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the conclusion of Project Synergy Phase II was announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, and various additional federal, state, and local agencies.

From January 2014 to May 2014, enforcement operations across the country have worked to target all levels of the synthetic designer drug marker. In all, more than 200 search warrants were served in 29 states, leading to the apprehension of more than 150 subjects and the seizure of hundreds of thousands of manufactured synthetic drugs and the raw products used to produce them. Over $20 million in cash and assets were also seized. These numbers will continue to rise as investigations move forward.

Many of these investigations revealed that mass amounts of the drug related proceeds were being funneled out to various countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. China appears to be the primary manufacturer for a large majority of the newest designer drugs.

The epidemic of designer synthetic drugs has been felt across the nation, causing considerable danger to the community in the form of abuse, addiction, and overdoses. These narcotics, which are often marketed as bath salts, herbal incense, or plant food, can cause users to experience vomiting, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness among other symptoms. They are also responsible for overdose deaths and serious organ damage.

During Project Synergy Phase I, which took place from December 2012 to June 2013, more than 227 arrests were made, with 416 warrants being served in 35 states and 5 countries. At that time, over $60 million in cash and assets were seized in addition to thousands of kilograms of bath salts, herbal incense products, and treated plant material.

The cooperation between the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection has proven pivotal in Project Synergy’s continued success. The identification of synthetic drugs and compounds by scientists working for both agencies ensured that investigators and prosecutors could act quickly over the course of their investigations.

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