Two former Kent residents were arrested in Newton Falls Wednesday as part of a federal crackdown on those who make and distribute synthetic designer drugs.
DEA Chief of Operations James Capra said drug and other agents served 150 arrest warrants and 375 search warrants and seized bank accounts in 35 states as part of a seventh-month investigation.
Ryan M. Kralik, 32, formerly of the 7600 block of S.R. 43 in Twin Lakes, and Ruth C. Eimers, 36, formerly of the 300 block of Harris Street, were arrested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Portage County Drug Task Force agents at Kralik's current residence at 31 E. Church St. in Newton Falls, according to Portage County Sheriff David Doak. They were charged with illegally importing the synthetic drugs commonly known as "bath salts" from China.
Homeland Security agents had previously raided Kralik's residence in Newton Falls on Feb. 6, seizing bath salts and packaging material, which led to Wednesday's raid, Doak said. The federal investigation started with a February 2012 raid by the drug task force on the Twilight Boutique at 9334 S.R. 43 in Streetsboro, he said.
A Homeland Security Special Response Team arrested Kralik and served him with a federal indictment charging him with the illegal importation and distribution of "bath salts," which contain addictive, potentially dangerous and sometimes unknown additives that have been known to cause extreme paranoia and violence in those who use them.
Doak said SRT, a federal SWAT team, served the warrant because Kralik had made threats on Facebook against police officers coming to serve him with papers.
According to Doak and Homeland Security, Kralik was operating an international drug smuggling operation, receiving "bath salts" from China then distributing them over the Internet through a website called "Freshsalts." Kralik and Eimers face multiple charges for allegedly violating federal drug laws, and were due to go before a federal judge in Akron on Wednesday, Doak said.
The arrests were part of a nationwide crackdown on the distribution of "bath salts" in the U.S., according to Doak and Homeland Security.
"We're not going to tolerate retail sales of 'bath salts' in Portage County," Doak said.
On Wednesday, drug task force agents, DEA and Stark Metro Narcotics agents also executed federal search warrants at the Twilight Boutique in Streetsboro and another Twilight Boutique location at 2872 Whipple Ave. in Stark County's Plain Township. Large quantities of the synthetic marijuana-like drug known as "spice" were seized, Doak said.
The Portage County Task Force is comprised of officers from the Aurora, Garrettsville, Kent, Hiram, Ravenna, Streetsboro, and Windham police departments, the Portage County Sheriff's Office, Portage County Prosecutor's Office, DEA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Suspected drug activity can be reported by calling 330-296-8626 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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