LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say several people were arrested on suspicion of illegally selling nitrous oxide for recreational use.
The arrests Friday were part of a 15-month-long collaborative effort by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
A news release issued by both agencies says 17 search warrants were served at various businesses throughout Southern California. Nine delivery vehicles were also targeted in “Operation No Laughing Matter.”
Of the accused, three were arrested. They included 51-year-old Edward Valencia of Lynwood; 58-year-old Federico Valencia of South LA; and 20-year-old Rose Marie Cuellar of Florence-Graham.
A fourth defendant, identified by authorities as 65-year-old William Victor of Northridge, remains at large.
According to the statement, the defendants and a host of businesses are accused of misbranding a drug.
The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum prison term of one year and a fine of up to $100,000, if convicted.
Nitrous oxide is a dangerous inhalant that has become popular at rave-style parties, the statement said. When used improperly, it may cause spasms and convulsions and can even result in death.