February 15, 2013
Contact: Erin Mulvey
Phone Number: (212) 337-3900
Undercover Operation Nabs Two Defendants Charged In Federal Court With Distribution Of Synthetic Drug Known As “Bath Salts”
Distribution of over $100,000 worth of Bath Salts sold from headshop in Kingston, NY
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA), Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Chief Egidio Tinti of the (N.Y.) Police Department, announced the arrest today of Kevin Hartrum and Teresa Greene for conspiring to distribute in excess of $100,000 worth of synthetic designer drugs, known as “bath salts,” which are controlled substances. Hartrum and Greene were arrested at their homes in Marion, New York, and Kingston, respectively, this morning and were presented before U.S. Magistrate George A. Yanthis in White Plains federal court this afternoon.
Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated: “We have zero tolerance for those that attempt to endanger our children through the lure of designer drugs. Designer drugs have no medical or commercial use; the only thing they are good for is harming our communities, endangering our first responders and lining the pockets of adult drug dealers with ill-earned cash. I commend the men and women of the Kingston Police Department, and their close relations with those they are sworn to serve, with identifying this threat attempting to gain a foothold in the city of Kingston.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “In the case of bath salts, looks are most certainly deceiving - while the label suggests a harmless bath or cleaning product, bath salts are a highly toxic and potentially lethal drug. Today’s arrests are a testament to the commitment of our law enforcement partners to protect our communities from this dangerous drug and to prosecute those who allegedly push it.”
Kingston Police Chief Tinti stated: “The men and women of the Kingston Police Department will continue to focus their efforts on making our community a safer place to live and work. We recognize that it is through combined enforcement efforts that we will succeed in achieving our goals. We wish to thank the DEA for their support and assistance in this case. We are truly committed to making Kingston safer and it is through these investigations and the hard work of our law enforcement officers that we are succeeding.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today in White Plains federal court:
Bath salts are synthetic stimulants that have no real value as a bath salt or other cleaning product. They are labeled as such to evade law enforcement detection, but they are marketed as a recreational drug. Bath salts affect users in a variety of ways, but typically induce reactions similar to those experienced after ingesting MDMA - commonly known as “ecstasy” - or stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. They have been linked to overdoses, suicides, and deaths throughout the United States.
For the past several years, Hartrum has operated a retail store in Kingston, N.Y. that sells drug paraphernalia and is commonly known as a “head shop.” Greene has worked in that store since at least late 2011. On multiple occasions between August 2012 and January 2013, a confidential informant and an undercover police officer have made recorded purchases of bath salts from Hartrum and Greene. During these transactions, Hartrum and Greene told the informant and the officer how best to consume the bath salts and Hartrum instructed them on how to profit from reselling the drugs to others.
The drugs the informant and officer bought tested positive for alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, 4-Methylethcathinone, and Pentedrone, all of which are Schedule I controlled substance analogues.
Hartrum, 55, and Greene 52, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute Schedule I controlled substance analogues, and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and supervised release for life.
Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of the Kingston Police Department, and the DEA’s New York City Tactical Diversion Squad, which is comprised of agents and officers from the DEA, the New York State Department of Financial Services, the New York City Police Department, and the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilan Graff is in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Wilson is in charge of the asset forfeiture related to the prosecution.