Man sentenced for distribution of “bath salts” across Utah

Vintage Old Justice Courthouse Column. Neoclassical colonnade with corinthian columns as part of a public building resembling a Greek or Roman temple

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man has been sentenced to 51 months in federal prison for possessing the Schedule 1 narcotic Alpha Pyrrolidinohexanophenone, commonly known as “Alpha PHP,” with the intent to distribute the narcotic.

Acting United States Attorney Andrea Martinez. for the District of Utah and Steven Cagen, special agent in charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Denver made the announcement.

Brent Orton, 63, of Salt Lake City plead guilty to a one-count criminal information filed by federal prosecutors charging him with possession with intent to distribute Alpha PHP in June of 2021. In the plea agreement, Orton admitted to receiving a package of Alpha PHP with the intent to distribute the illegal narcotic.

Prosecutors alleged Orton had imported and distributed large amounts of Alpha-PHP for two years, and that Orton had distributed between 575,000 to 4,600,000 doses of the drug in Utah, which sold for between $300 and $500 dollars a gram. Prosecutors also alleged Orton used his daughter’s friends as customers, as well as using them to make inroads into the drug trafficking business.

Alpha-PHP, a Schedule 1 controlled substance and is a compound of the substituted cathinone and substituted pyrrolidine chemical classes is a synthetic variant of a drug more commonly referred to as “bath salts.” In general, the intensity of the effects of this substance is comparable to strong stimulants such as methamphetamine, MDPV and alpha-PVP. Alpha-PHP is reported to mimic the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. The adverse effects associated with alpha-PHP abuse included vomiting, agitation, paranoia, hypertension, unconsciousness, tachycardia, seizures, cardiac arrest, rhabdomyolysis or death.

“Synthetic drugs like Alpha-PHP are deadly compounds that endanger our communities,” said Acting United States Attorney Andrea Martinez. “The United States Attorney’s Office is focused on pursuing criminals who import and distribute these illegal narcotics into our community.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Utah United States Attorney’s Office and a Special Assistant United States Attorney from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are prosecting the case. Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations and Officers from Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move.

HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.