Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, seen at a prior news...

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, seen at a prior news conference, stated in a release that Frederick Warren got 51 months in prison and was ordered to forfeit nearly $2 million. Credit: Charles Eckert

Four men suspected of manufacturing and shipping synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs, sometimes marketed as "bath salts," from a Bay Shore warehouse in 2011 face numerous charges, federal authorities said Thursday.

The four sold their wares over the Internet with names like "Black Mamba," "Dead Man Walking" and "Spicy Green," authorities said in a federal complaint, using warehouses in Bay Shore and Tampa, Fla., as bases.

"These defendants marketed their highly toxic synthetic marijuana as aromatic herbs, making it sound completely harmless when in fact, it is a dangerous drug that can have serious health consequences," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

William Chavis, Justin Gensel and Kevin Matherson were arrested in Tampa on Wednesday. Vincent Cashman, formerly of Garden City, according to law-enforcement records, surrendered to authorities in Florida Thursday.

According to the complaint, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent posing as a customer on May 17 told Cashman over the phone that his product was "the most mellow stuff I had tried."

"Right on," Cashman replied.

The four allegedly sent 9,000 parcels to customers through the mail and a national shipping company between 2011 and 2012. Chavis, when stopped by authorities at a Tampa airport in 2011 with a "large amount" of cash in his carry-on bag, allegedly told them that the operation brought in $4 million that year.

Over roughly the same period the four allegedly bought 411 gallons of acetone, a critical ingredient in the manufacture of synthetic marijuana, from the Tampa, Deer Park and Bay Shore locations of a "nationwide retailer of home furnishing and repair products." Acetone can be used in a variety of common products, including paint thinners and nail polish removers.

The complaint mentions a surveillance photograph taken by law enforcement in 2011 in a Deer Park Home Depot parking lot that appears to show Chavis loading containers of acetone into a vehicle.

With Matthew Chayes

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