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2 Charged In 169 Count Indictment Of Synthetic Cannabinoid Operation

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)- A grand jury in Jefferson County has returned a 169-page indictment against two men accused of selling herbal cigarettes laced with spice.

Michael Whitney and John Swanson have been indicted for racketeering and charged with manufacturing, distribution and sale of herbal cigarettes laced with synthetic cannabinoid and money laundering.

According to Jefferson County District Attorney Pete Weir, synthetic cannabinoid is a chemical that is sprayed onto a plant-based material. Its most common street name is "spice."

According to the indictment, Whitney and Swanson acted as an organized enterprise to manufacture, dispense, possess, distribute and sell synthetic cannabinoid. The primary product they made were herbal cigarettes named NBT (Next Big Thing/Never Be Tamed).

The herbal cigarettes were sprayed with spice and it was not included on the product ingredient list.

The indictment alleges that the primary retail outlet for the cigarettes was Smoker Friendly, a national retailer.

"This is an unusual situation to find illegal drugs following a legitimate, traditional retail supply route to consumers. These herbal cigarettes were laced with a drug "spice" which was not named on their ingredients list. In addition to being illegal, this poses a serious risk to public safety," said District Attorney Pete Weir, "The indictment of these two men and their businesses are a significant step in taking dangerous, illegal synthetic cannabinoids out of our community and out of the hands of children and adults."

Whitney and Swanson were arrested Aug. 23 and remain in custody at the Jefferson County Jail on $1 million bond. An arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 21.

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