The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and authorities in three other countries announced the arrests of dozens of people on Wednesday involved in trafficking designer drugs such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
In the United States, the enforcement operations took place in 49 cities, and targeted retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. The operations included more than 150 arrest warrants and almost 375 search warrants.
The DEA investigation into designer drugs has uncovered a large flow of drug-related proceeds back to countries in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The investigation is following the trail of money to groups suspected of ties to terrorists, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Arrests were also made in Canada, Australia and Barbados. Bank accounts in Panama were seized as part of the operation.
In the three days before the operations took place, more than 550 kilograms of synthetic drugs were seized in a joint operation with Customs and Border Protection, aimed at international shipments of synthetic drugs at express consignment facilities, according to the DEA.
“Shutting down businesses that traffic in these drugs and attacking their operations worldwide is a priority for DEA and our law enforcement partners,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a news release. “These designer drugs are destructive, dangerous, and are destroying lives. DEA has been at the forefront of the battle against this trend and is targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative, and investigative tool at our disposal.”