ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Two St Louis area men considered leaders in a synthetic drug trafficking conspiracy are handed long prison sentences.

Anwer Rao,36, and 36-year-old Michael Lentsch–both of O’Fallon, Illinois — are sentenced to 12 and a half years in federal prison.

Several co-defendants have pled guilty to related charges and are awaiting sentencing.

Synthetic drug manufacturing is designed to circumvent traditional drug laws by creating chemical compounds that mimic the effect of drugs like marijuana and cocaine.

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