FORT MYERS, Fla. - he Fort Myers man who won the chance to meet the cable television stars of "Breaking Bad" last fall was a key player in supplying national synthetic marijuana around the country, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
Ryan Lee Carroll, 28, was arrested New Year's Eve on charges of synthetic narcotic possession with intent to sell, drug possession and keeping a shop or vehicle for dangerous drugs.
Benjamin Smith, 33, of Winter Haven, and James Lee Allen, 35, of Cape Coral, were arrested on similar charges.
Smith and Allen were released from Lee County Jail on New Year's Day. Carroll, who also faces a charge of probation violation following an October DUI arrest, remained in jail Thursday. Carroll and Allen could face up to 21 years in prison. Smith could face 20 years.
Carroll won a national contest last fall to meet the cast of AMC's hit show "Breaking Bad," which followed the life of a crystal meth manufacturer. Carroll had the chance to watch the show's final episode in September in Los Angeles with the stars.
Deputies arrested Carroll and his associates after they seized more than 700 pounds of synthetic marijuana, with an estimated street value of about $1.25 million, from three San Carlos Park homes. The center of the operation was in the 17300 block of Meadow Lake Circle, according to the sheriff's office.
"The one primary residence was literally a production, manufacturing assembly line, if you will," Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said during a news conference Thursday. "The entire house completely tricked out and set up for manufacturing the product."
Deputies also seized evidence from two other homes in the 17400 block of Ellie Drive and the 8400 block of Bahamas Road.
Scott said Carroll and his associates used a cement mixer to mix plant matter with chemicals, including toxic Acetone - which is often found in nail polish remover and cleaning solutions. They added flavors such as jungle juice or electric banana.
The drugs were then packaged in colorful wrappers bearing several dozen brand names, and shipped via the U.S. Postal Service to other states.
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