DEA synthetic drug raids net five Houston arrests


A unit in a Galleria-area apartment complex is just one of six locations drug enforcement agents raided as part of that major nationwide synthetic drug takedown.

It's an illegal substance that comes in colorful packages. Synthetic marijuana and bath salts for use like cocaine -- all toxic products drug enforcement agents say are being manufactured and sold right here in Houston.

"Store owners, gasoline station owners are still selling it. It's illegal," said DEA special agent Javier Pena.

Pena is among drug enforcement agents announcing a major nationwide takedown on drug trafficking rings who are doing big business dealing in bath salts and synthetic marijuana right now.

That effort, called Operation Synergy, has already lead to criminal charges this week against 19 Texans, including five men from Houston.

"Surrounding areas where we did warrants were Houston, San Antonio and Austin," Pena said.

Eyewitness News was on scene as the DEA raided locations across Houston, seizing cars and other property as part of the operation synergy.

According to federal court documents, Brian Arthur, Dung Nguyen, R. Dan Arthur, Joshua Hasness and Faizan Ali, of Houston, are alleged chemists accused of working with a major multi-state drug trafficking ring based out of San Antonio.

"This stuff is highly, highly addictive. People are getting sick, we know the stories, we got a lot of people in rehab, emergency room situations. People have died," Pena said.

This remains an ongoing investigation.

If convicted, those arrested face up to 20 years in federal prison and some very stiff fines.

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