AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. authorities arrested 16 people in connection with what they said was a major ring in the Houston-area distributing synthetic marijuana, according to an indictment unsealed on Tuesday.
The 13-count indictment from April 28 charges the group with possessing and distributing synthetic marijuana as well as other crimes such as money laundering, U.S. prosecutors in Texas said.
"A major criminal organization that dealt in the large-scale manufacturing and distributing of synthetic cannabinoids was dismantled," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a statement.
The drug, sometimes known as "K2" or "Spice," is not made from the marijuana plant but consists of psychoactive chemicals or a mixture of chemicals that are sprayed on to plant material and then smoked or ingested to produce a "high."
Medical experts say it is a far more potent drug that provokes erratic behavior. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control last year warned that calls to poison control centers and deaths from overdoses of the drug were on the rise.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)