GADSDEN, Ala. — Authorities said Wednesday they had arrested two people and recovered about $100,000 worth of a designer drug so new the Drug Enforcement Administration is still trying to classify the substance.
The drug, a white powder called AB-Pinaca, is a chemical compound used to make synthetic drugs commonly called "spice," said Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin.
About 4 pounds of the drug was allegedly shipped from China to a home near Boaz in Etowah County, where local officers working with the U.S. Postal Service, the FBI and Homeland Security seized it about 10 days ago after a two-week investigation.
Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin said the seizure was the first time AB-Pinaca had been found in Alabama, but more could be on its way as new synthetic drugs made in labs replace drugs including methamphetamine.
"We're seeing this as being a trend of the future," said Rob Savage, commander of the county drug task force.
AB-Pinaca is so dangerous it can cause failure of the lungs, circulatory system and kidneys after just one use, authorities said. It is typically mixed with a chemical and sprayed on plant matter such as tree leaves, which are then sold in small packages.
Other cases involving the drug have been reported in Colorado, Louisiana and Florida, where the chemical was added to a list of banned substances last fall.
Two Etowah County residents were charged under a state law with possessing the drug and trafficking, but no federal charges were filed since the chemical is not considered a controlled substance under U.S. law.
The DEA recently listed two chemicals with similar names as being subject to federal drugs laws on a temporary basis, but it is still reviewing substances that may be related to them, said spokeswoman Barbara Carreno.
Ricky Lee Laxton, 26, and Samantha Mary Mooney, 20, of Boaz, are charged with trafficking and possession of a substance controlled under state law, which regulates more types of synthetic drugs than federal law.
The two also are charged with possession of marijuana and salvia, another form of synthetic drug, authorities said.
Laxton and Mooney are being held on $150,000 bond each.
An attorney for Mooney declined comment, and a lawyer for Laxton did not immediately return a message seeking comment.