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'Breaking Bad' contest winner arrested in Florida on drug charges

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida man who won a contest to watch the finale of the drug-themed TV show "Breaking Bad" with its cast has been arrested on charges he ran an underground synthetic marijuana distribution operation, police said on Thursday.

In a possible case of life imitating art, Ryan Lee Carroll, 28, was arrested on New Year's Eve and charged with manufacturing and shipping a synthetic marijuana known as "Spice" to distribution points across the country from his home in Fort Myers, in southwest Florida.

Two other suspects were arrested and their homes served as additional manufacturing and storage facilities for the illicit drug operation, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"Ironically, Ryan Lee Carroll was a contest winner for the hit TV series 'Breaking Bad'; a show about a chemistry teacher turned drug dealer," the statement said.

It said more than 700 pounds (315 kg) of 79,000 individually packaged packets of synthetic marijuana were seized with an estimated street value of $1.25 million.

"The investigation has put a large dent in the availability of 'Spice' nationally," the sheriff's office said.

In addition to the synthetic marijuana and by-products of the substance seized at Carroll's home, deputies said they had confiscated a souvenir Hazmat suit signed by "Breaking Bad" cast members.

A lawyer for Carroll could not immediately be reached for comment.

The suit was similar to the one worn by Walter White, the fictitious former high school teacher in the TV show who amasses a fortune by manufacturing a potent variety of meth or methamphetamine.

(Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Grant McCool)

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