"Eight Ballz Bath Salts" Maker Found Guilty by a Federal Jury
|Spiritual Herbs via Flickr|
A Phoenix manufacturer of the synthetic drugs known as "bath salts" was found guilty of multiple federal drug charges, despite the fact that the chemical he was selling was not explicitly illegal.
Michael Lane, a 51-year-old Cave Creek resident, didn't take a plea agreement, like his local co-defendants did, after being arrested during a nationwide DEA bust on makers of "bath salts."
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One of the convictions against Lane, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance analogue, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Plea agreements involving several of his counterparts include stipulations that their prison sentences not be more than five years, give or take a couple of years. The five other people in this case are awaiting sentencing.
Almost exactly a year ago, 17 search warrants were reportedly served in Arizona, but only a handful of people were arrested -- all for manufacturing and selling the chemicals known as "bath salts." More were arrested across the country.
According to federal court documents, the men arrested in the Phoenix area were not dealing in chemicals that were explicitly illegal, but the feds were going after them with the Federal Analog Act, since the chemicals were "substantially similar" to drugs that are actually illegal.
Some of these guys thought what they were doing was legal, and some were even acting on advice from lawyers that they would be fine.
Even an affidavit submitted by a Phoenix DEA agent in the case explains that at least two of the men "discussed, in substance and among other things, the fact that their distribution of the various products is purportedly legal, that they do not allegedly ship or send such products to states where they believe their products to be illegal, and that they have purported to have received legal counsel and advice indicating that their activities are legal."