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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing "Bath Salts"

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Dung Lam Le, 27, of Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute 4-methyl-N-ethylcathinone, a controlled substance analogue, more popularly known as “4-MEC” or “bath salts” before U.S. District Judge Frank Geraci, Jr. The charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas E. Gregory, who is handling the case, stated that agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, acting in an undercover capacity,  purchased significant quantities of the controlled substance analogues by communicating with Dung Le via e-mail and on-line. Authorities also seized over one kilogram of 4-methyl-N-ethylcathinone during the course of the investigation.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, along with many local law enforcement agencies, have recently increased their efforts to combat the importation, distribution, and use of designer drugs known as “bath salts,” which have a similar chemical structure to “methcathinone,” a Schedule I controlled substance. “Bath salts” are synthetic stimulants that have no real value as a bath salt or other bath product. Their only known purpose is to be consumed by humans as a recreational drug. Users of “bath salts” typically snort the drug in powder form or ingest the drug in pill form, but some users have been known to smoke it, or inject the drug intravenously. The drug has proven to affect users in a variety of ways, but users typically experience highs similar to those experienced after ingesting MDMA or “ecstasy”, and stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine (euphoria and increased energy). 

Companies located in China and India are principally responsible for manufacturing and exporting “bath salts” to the United States.  Shippers of “bath salts” typically mislabel the product to evade detection by law enforcement, and sell the drugs via the Internet to distributors around the world, including in the United States.  Distributors in the United States then sell the drugs online, through traditional distribution methods or by retail distribution at convenience stores, gas stations, and “head shops” (retail stores specializing in drug paraphernalia) in packets labeled “bath salts.”  “Bath salts” have been shown to have a number of adverse and largely unpredictable effects, which include psychotic episodes, delusions, panic attacks, increased heart rate, chest pain, agitation, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. 

The investigation was conducted by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Geraci.