150 are arrested in designer-drug raids

More than 150 synthetic-drug makers and sellers have been arrested in a U.S. crackdown on designer drugs whose profits largely flow to the Middle East, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday.

Federal agents have issued nearly 200 search warrants and seized more than $20 million in cash and assets in an operation that has spanned over 29 states since its launch in January, the DEA said in a statement. The largest single operation was a statewide effort in Alabama.

The targeted drugs include synthetic marijuana, which is usually a plant material treated with a psychoactive compound, and a stimulant commonly known as “bath salts.”

Federal law enforcement agents found that much of the illicit drug profits go to countries in the Middle East, including Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, the DEA said.

The Treasury Department also announced Wednesday that it was imposing sanctions on a Canadian father and son alleged to be kingpins in the synthetic-drug trade. The move will block any assets that Daniel and Kevin Louie may have in the United States and prohibit U.S. companies from doing business with them.

— From news services

Court stays rulingon Walker probe

A federal appeals court has put on hold a judge’s ruling that delivered a major victory to Gov. Scott Walker (R).

The ruling Tuesday halted a secret investigation into Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him. Prosecutors appealed that ruling Wednesday, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, granted a stay.

The court said U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee should not have entered the preliminary injunction because the prosecutors had appealed an earlier decision that they were not immune from being sued.

The case against prosecutors was brought by the conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth. The case has shadowed Walker as he runs for reelection and eyes a presidential bid.

— Associated Press

City lawmaker faces corruption charges

A Democratic member of the New York City Council was arrested Wednesday on corruption charges, accused of illegally pocketing about $30,000 in public funds for his own use, prosecutors said.

Ruben Wills routed money that came from city and state sources to a nonprofit he founded called New York 4 Life, and to his campaign committee, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. Some of the money was spent at Nordstrom, Century 21 and Macy’s, where Wills bought a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag and other items, Schneiderman said.

— Reuters

Colo. lawmakers approve banking for pot industry: Colorado lawmakers Wednesday approved the first financial system for the marijuana industry, a network of uninsured cooperatives designed to give pot businesses a way to access basic banking services. The plan seeks to move the marijuana industry away from its cash-only roots. Banks routinely reject pot businesses because they fear running afoul of federal law.

Man, 90, sentenced in drug haul: A 90-year-old Indiana man who hauled more than a ton of cocaine into Michigan for a Mexican drug cartel has been sentenced to three years in prison on his birthday. Leo Sharp said he’s “really heartbroken” over his crimes. Detroit federal Judge Nancy Edmunds said age and World War II service aren’t enough to keep Sharp out of prison.

— From news services