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Arkansas Family Accused of Trafficking Bath Salts Indicted

A Heber Springs, Ark., family and three others have been indicted for distribution of synthetic narcotics, known as bath salts, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

Christopher Hogan, age 45; Zachary Cordell, age 20; Eric Harlow, age 22; and Jeremy Allen, age 19, appeared Tuesday, July 24, 2012, before United States Magistrate Judge H. David Young on charges related to a conspiracy to distribute synthetic narcotics. Two additional defendants in this case, Christopher Hogan’s wife, Angelique Hogan, age 44, and son, Kristian Hogan, age 20, are scheduled to appear for arraignment later this week.

“Law enforcement agencies must be able to adapt quickly to new threats facing our communities,” said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. “The use of these unsafe and unpredictable products all too often ends in a hospital emergency room. HSI and our partners are taking a strong stance against bath salts and other drug analogues.” Parmer oversees HSI activities in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Bath salts are a street name for illegal synthetic narcotics, including Methylone, Pentedrone and MDPV. These synthetic narcotics are Schedule I controlled substances or analogues to Schedule I controlled substances, which are illegal to possess and which have no legitimate consumer use. Bath salts mimic the effects of commonly recognized drugs, such as methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, and often are more potent and have greater effects on the user. The bath salts in this case were manufactured in and imported from China by Christopher Hogan. The drugs were distributed by Hogan and others to individuals in the Heber Springs area, primarily teenagers and young adults.

The investigation began as a CCSO case. In July 2011, CCSO executed a search warrant at the Hogan residence and seized items used in the distribution of bath salts. Christopher Hogan was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. While on bond (during the Fall of 2011 and into the Spring of 2012) Hogan continued to import and distribute bath salts.

In January 2012, HSI special agents intercepted a package from China addressed to Christopher Hogan. The package contained approximate 250 grams of Methylone. HSI began a joint investigation with CCSO and USPIS which resulted in this indictment.

Each charge of aiding and abetting, possession and conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver these synthetic narcotics carry a possible sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both, with not less than three years of supervised release to follow. The charge of misprision of a felony has a possible sentence of not more than three years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, with not more than one year of supervised release to follow.

An indictment contains only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.