Four from Eastern Kentucky were arrested and are now charged with drug trafficking.
Better than cocaine and ecstasy put together."
That’s how one local woman described a powerful new designer drug -- again sold as "bath salts."
The drug is key to federal indictments, trafficking arrests and a chemical connection that stretches from here to India.
This is not the synthetic cocaine we've talked about. It is something stronger.
The key ingredient is a crystal chemical called mephedrone, not meth. Officials said a criminal, organized sales and manufacturing outfit was making thousands off the drugs.
In federal criminal indictments and complaints, the government charges a Grayson, Ky., family -- Ralph Justice and his two sons Adam and Eric -- and Christopher Newman from Garrison in Lewis County with illegally marketing a substance containing the chemical.
The documents find the substance to be a designer drug with stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.
The complaint says the conspirators sold the packaged drugs at a business in Huntington and a sister store in St. Albans. It was labeled “Ivory Soft Bath Salts,” and investigators said the suspects knew that it was for human consumption.
The affidavit says Christopher Newman also marketed the synthetic marijuana Wildfire to the West Virginia shops.
And the complaint explains that an early January federal raid found the conspirators headquartered at a now-vacated store in Ironton, Ohio. Investigators said this is where they packaged large amounts of the chemical mixture, ordering the mephedrone in raw bulk form from a drug company in India.
Agents said mephedrone is an analogue of the banned substance methcathinone - also know as "cat" -- and peddling a similar analogue drug brings the same criminal penalties.
Adding up wildfire and bath salts profits listed in the complaint, the sales generated more than more than $200,000 and are being listed as a significant trafficking operation.
The investigation included packages of the chemical from India -- heading to Garrison and Ironton -- seized at the Cincinnati airport.
Posted: 8:20 PM Feb 18, 2011
Reporter: Randy Yohe
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.