On March 15, four California men were arrested for allegedly selling "fake heroin" imported from China. They face federal drug and money laundering charges.
The arrests are the culmination of a year-long investigation of the drug ring, which is accused of trafficking a potent painkiller known as acetyl fentanyl. A near clone of fentanyl, it is said to be much more powerful than heroin and is illegal for all uses in the U.S. The suspects were taken into custody at a Southern California lab stocked with pill presses and colored powders. The powders will be tested to establish their chemical makeup.
Charges have been filed against a 25-year-old Fountain Valley man, a 30-year-old Los Angeles man, a 30-year-old Huntington Beach man and a 31-year-old Long Beach man. They are scheduled for arraignment on April 4. According to the court filings, authorities seized various narcotics, including acetyl fentanyl, ecstasy and Xanax, from an alleged customer of the suspects in January.
The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles said that so-called designer drugs like acetyl fentanyl are dangerous and have led to many deaths across the country. According to a representative of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl and similar drugs pose a serious health risk.
If convicted, California residents charged with drug distribution and other drug-related crimes can face lengthy prison terms and steep fines. As a result, they may find it advisable to meet with a criminal defense attorney to determine how best to combat the charges. One possible challenge could be to the admissibility of evidence that was seized at a search that authorities lacked probable cause to conduct.
Source: My News LA, "Arraignment set for Southland men charged with distributing synthetic heroin," Hillary Jackson, March 16, 2016