Federal authorities reportedly have been cracking down on synthetic drugs in recent months. One federal investigation aimed at synthetics known as bath salts and Spice has resulted in 90 arrests across more than 30 states since December, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The nationwide designer drug crackdown has been dubbed “Project Synergy,” according to Deseret News. The feds announced this week that three women and 11 men in Utah have been indicted on federal charges resulting from the nationwide probe.
DEA officials say that police in Illinois began to suspect that more than 9,600 packets of suspected Spice seized in that state had been shipped out of St. George, Utah. Federal agents turned their eyes toward Utah. The group is accused of unlawfully manufacturing and mailing the substance known as Spice. However, nine of the people have also been indicted on conspiracy and money laundering allegations.
Federal money laundering charges are often associated with white-collar offenses. Federal law prohibits engaging in a financial transaction with proceeds derived from specified crimes with the intent to hide the source of the money (other legalese essentially seeks to expand or better define the elements of the offense).
Financial transactions under the money laundering statute are generally defined broadly. While often associated with a business or financial institution in a white-collar setting, money laundering allegations can arise in other areas, including drug crime probes.
While any federal drug crime can carry significant consequences if a person is convicted of the charge, the conspiracy and money laundering charges also carry heavy sentences. The Utah residents charged with conspiracy could face up to 20 years in federal prison on that charge alone. The nine people indicted with conspiracy also face 10 counts of money laundering—each count carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years. Heavy fines are also possible if a conviction is ever entered.
Source: Deseret News, “Feds indict 14 Utahns in nationwide Spice crackdown,” Dennis Romboy, July 23, 2013