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2 Baton Rouge business owners face drug trafficking charges

Severe penalties can be imposed upon Louisiana residents convicted of drug crimes. The harshness of punishments handed down by state and federal courts is determined by several factors, including drug type, quantity and the alleged action taken with the drug, from drug possession for personal use to drug trafficking. Laws also forbid possessing or buying certain chemicals used to cultivate or manufacture drugs.

Two Baton Rouge business owners, a 41-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman, were among 11 people recently arrested in Louisiana and four other states. A federal grand jury indicted the defendants on smuggling, conspiracy and money laundering charges. Prosecutors allege that the drug ring purchased chemicals from China to create and sell synthetic marijuana in the U.S.

Investigators say that the defendants transferred money to China to buy chemicals and that false documents were created to identify and ship products to the U.S. Once customs inspections were cleared, delivery addresses were allegedly changed to reach the defendants who, in turn, combined chemicals and converted them into usable forms.

A warehouse owned by the male Baton Rouge defendant was raided after federal drug investigators intercepted a package of chemicals in 2011 and informed local police. Authorities say the raid uncovered 12-ounces of synthetic marijuana. The man told authorities he thought the product was legal.

Later that year, while on probation, the defendant allegedly shifted more money to China for chemical purchases. The businessman owned multiple limited liability companies. The female defendant, convicted last year of synthetic cannabinoids possession, owned a Baton Rouge smoke shop.

Among the defendants' assets were $1 million in cash, jointly-held bank accounts, luxury vehicles and a Baton Rouge mansion. Drug agents accumulated evidence by tracking money transfers and defendants' text messages, but did not reveal how they uncovered the drug ring.

Federal investigators have the resources, manpower and time to develop formidable cases to support drug charges. Louisiana defendants facing allegations like these require immediate legal advice.

Source: The Advocate, "Mansion, luxury cars among drug ring spoils" Ryan Broussard and Ben Wallace, Jul. 17, 2014

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