A pair of Southern California residents is facing life sentences for their role in the production and distribution of synthetic drugs that reproduce the effects of marijuana and ecstasy, among other substances.
Sean Libbert, 38, and Kyle Kledzik, 26, both from the Orange County area, were arrested by federal agents on June 13 for selling synthetic drugs through their company, RCS Labs Inc and two web sites, which serviced customers across the United States. After ingesting some of their product, one individual suffered bodily injury so severe that if found guilty, Libbert and Kledzik could face a minimum sentence of life in prison. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges, which is the first such prosecution for synthetic drugs in Southern California.
The arrests were the culmination in to a three-year federal investigation into Libbert and Kledzik’s operation, according to a 54-page indictment. Libbert, who has a lengthy criminal record and in possession of multiple high-power weaponry at the time of his arrest, worked with a quartet of Chinese nationals to bring chemical products into the United States that were often falsely labeled in order to avoid issues with customs.
Between March 2010 and June 2012, Libbert and his Chinese suppliers smuggled 660 pounds of chemical products worth about $1.4 million into the U.S. He then sold the products to other suppliers, including three men – Craig Neil, Jeremy Jennings and Gabriel Afana – who are charged as co-conspirators, while also manufacturing and selling his own synthetic drugs. Tens of thousands of dollars in profits were then wired to Kledzik and Libbert and their collaborators through a vast array of incorporated companies and bank accounts across the country. Klezdik’s role in the operation was largely relegated to picking up packages sent to mailboxes in Orange Country.
Synthetic drugs such as K2 and Spice, among numerous others, have been responsible for an avalanche of health emergencies since 2011, including 39,000 emergency room visits and 7,000 calls to poison control centers in the United States.
The drugs have also been linked to several deaths, including three fatal overdoses in less than two months in Minnesota. The volatile nature of these drugs is caused largely by the unknown chemical compounds which dealers like Libbert use to keep their product free of the list of banned substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
by Paul Gaita, thefix.com
2 O.C. men charged in region's first synthetic-drug prosecution
Two Orange County men arrested Friday are among six people charged with making and selling millions of dollars in synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana and Ecstasy, among other drugs.
Federal authorities said it’s the first such prosecution in Southern California.
Kyle Kledzik, 26, of Dana Point and Sean Libbert, 38, of Newport Coast are charged with selling $12 million worth of “spice,” “bath salts” and the chemicals used in making the drugs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Spice is synthetic marijuana, and bath salts are a group of drugs that cause effects similar to Ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine, LSD and khat, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Libbert and Kledzik also are accused of importing some of the chemicals from China. The other four defendants, three of whom are still at large and unidentified, are Chinese.
Federal agents from a task force arrested Kledzik and Libbert on Friday morning. At a court hearing Friday afternoon in Santa Ana, both pleaded not guilty. U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas McCormick ordered both held pending trial.
Prosecutors say the men sold the drugs through a business called RCS Labs. The indictment says Libbert ran the business and paid Kledzik to do work that included picking up packages sent to mailboxes around Orange County.
They sent drugs in the mail to people around the country and sold the spice under the name “Da Kine Blend,” the indictment says.
From March 2010 to June 2012, the indictment says, the men imported about 660 pounds of chemical products worth $1.4 million.
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