SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Two Orange County men were arrested Friday on a federal indictment accusing them of smuggling and distributing millions of dollars of analogue drugs known as spice and bath salts.
It was the first federal indictment in Southern California under the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
The federal law makes it illegal to manufacture or possess chemicals intended for human consumption that are similar to controlled substances - such as Ecstasy and marijuana - and produce similar effects.
Arrested on the 16-count grand jury indictment were Sean Libbert, 38, of Newport Coast, and Kyle Kledzik, 26, of Dana Point.
Four Chinese nationals also were indicted. Jin Liu, 30, is in federal custody in Jacksonville, Fla. on other drug charges. The three others, whose names are not known, are believed to be in China.
Prosecutors said in the statement that "Libbert's organization was one of the nation's largest importers and shippers of synthetic narcotics. According to the indictment, from March 2010 until July 2012, Libbert and his coconspirators smuggled more than 300 kilograms of chemicals into the U.S. at a cost of more than $1.4 million. The organization also allegedly purchased more than 300 kilograms of chemicals from domestic sources."
The ring is accused of selling more than $12 million in analogue drugs throughout the United States, some of it via the Internet.
Libbert, who has prior convictions for drug offenses, could face life in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.