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US Federal Agents Smash Synthetic Drug Ring

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart announces a nationwide synthetic drug takedown, July 26, 2012, during a news conference at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va.
U.S. federal drug agents say they have smashed a designer synthetic drug ring involving 35 states and five countries.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says since it launched Project Synergy in December, it has arrested more than 75 people and seized nearly $15 million in cash and other assets. Arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for another 150 suspects.

Countries with emergence of psychoactive drugs worldwide
Countries with emergence of psychoactive drugs worldwide

Authorities say their investigation also uncovered a massive flow of drug-related proceeds to countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart says designer synthetic drugs are destructive, dangerous, and destroy lives.

Synthetic drugs are composed of chemicals and other ingredients aimed at creating the same effects as naturally derived drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. They are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner or plant food.

Users frequently wind up in the hospital suffering from significant organ damage, seizures, hallucinations. Use of the products can lead to death.