Recently, a two-year-long investigation brought a huge conspiracy to distribute illicit chemicals in North Carolina to light. The chemicals were being purchased from China and shipped to Hendersonville, where they would be distributed as the new synthetic drug nicknamed ”bath salts.”
Bath salts are made from one or more of a class of chemicals known as cathinones. They are referred to as bath salts because manufacturers try to evade laws outlawing the sale of drugs by labeling them ”jewelry cleaner,” ”plant food” or ”bath salts.” Local law enforcement has little power to take the substances off the streets until state legislation can catch up with these new substances being abused.
The conspiracy to distribute these drugs began in 2012 and expanded to include three states and more than 30 participants. However, the conspiracy ended when the man in charge revealed his operation to an undercover agent posing as someone who wanted to buy the business. The lead conspirator now faces 15 years in prison as the result of a plea bargain, without which he would have faced multiple charges, each carrying a 20-year sentence.
The cathinone being sold is known as Alpha-PVP. This class of drug has effects similar to methamphetamine but carry a greater risk of paranoia, hallucinations and death. It often causes psychotic behavior with only a single dose. Prolonged use can cause a zombie-like psychosis lasting for weeks even after use ceases.
Bath salts and similar substances are sold over the counter at many tobacco shops and convenience stores across the country. Buyers often believe the substances are legal but in fact, all of them have been outlawed by federal law. But local law enforcement is not authorized to enforce federal laws so they must wait until local laws catch up. In the meantime, chemists working in this illicit trade swap a few molecules around in their formulas and come up with new chemicals that have not yet been outlawed.
Unfortunately, it’s relatively easy to purchase these chemicals from China using online stores. As was the case in North Carolina, the chemicals can be purchased easily with a wire transfer or credit card. Once the chemical is delivered, it is then combined with other ingredients and packaged for sale.
The two main conspirators in the ring were Randall “Scott” Braddock and Joshua Lee Lindsey who distributed an estimated 35,000 to 75,000 grams of Alpha-PVP. One of the owners told the undercover agent that he was able to make $70,000 on every 500-gram shipment that cost him just $800.
Also known as Flakka, Meow Meow, Gravel, and Cloud 9, Alpha-PVP is incredibly dangerous. Education is the key to prevention and for this reason, we offer free drug education materials on the signs of drug abuse for all drugs. Call us today for free drug education or for assistance in finding treatment for those trapped in addiction.