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Judge orders Ga. company to stop selling 'fake drugs' in W.Va.

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- A Georgia-based company that West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office says is a "major distributor" of synthetic drugs must immediately stop selling to West Virginians, a Putnam County judge ordered Wednesday.

Nutragenomics MFG LLC of Alpharetta, Ga., and its owner, Drew Green, agreed to hand over the names, addresses and phone numbers of all West Virginians who have purchased from the company between January 2008 and now, according to Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers' order. The products sold and the amount purchased also must be disclosed within 50 days.

The company will prominently announce on its websites that it is banned from selling to West Virginia residents, and the company can't claim that chemicals in its products are legal or benign.

Commonly sold as incense, bath salts and plant food, the drugs imitate the effects of marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine. They were banned in the state more than a year ago. However, police are still finding them.

Doctors consider the synthetic drugs to be more dangerous than their counterparts because they have been linked to serious side effects, such as extreme paranoia, hypertension, seizures and death.

The lawsuit, filed in April, also asks that money received from the sales be turned over to the state, and that a $5,000 civil penalty be imposed on the defendants for each violation.

"We're still seeking civil penalties, and we want a permanent ban," Assistant Attorney General Matthew Stonestreet said. "I think that's one thing both parties agree on -- they don't want to be here anymore and we don't want them here. I don't think they want to mess around with us."

Nutragenomics, which claims $10 million to $50 million in annual trade volume, allegedly sells the synthetic drugs on websites, such as research-chemicalz.com, gongchang.com and sinoimex.com, according to the complaint. The products can be purchased in amounts of 1, 5 or 10 grams and also by the kilogram, the lawsuit claims.

"Cutting off the supply of these illicit substances at the source is central to ending this debilitating menace," McGraw said in a news release.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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