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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Drug Ring Linked to MGU Laboratory

Police have broken up a methamphetamine ring run by some of the city's top chemistry students who synthesized the drug in a chemistry laboratory at Moscow State University.

At least 10 suspects -- all Muscovites and students or recent graduates of leading Moscow universities -- were arrested over the Aug. 14-15 weekend on suspicion of making and selling methamphetamine, city anti-drug police spokeswoman Maria Lutsenko said Friday.

During a raid of a laboratory used by Moscow State University's chemistry department, police confiscated more than 50 grams of methamphetamine that had been synthesized by the students using materials purchased by the university for research purposes, Lutsenko said.

"They obviously had made a lot more, but they managed to sell most of it," she said.

Police had been tracking the drug ring for around six months after noting that high-quality methamphetamine had begun circulating among wealthy young Muscovites.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta mistakenly reported on its web site Friday that the high-quality drug had become extremely popular among Moscow's transsexual scene. But it was in fact Moscow's trance music scene, not transsexual scene, that was being flooded with the drug, Lutsenko said.

As of Friday, criminal cases had been opened against three students on charges of producing and distributing illegal substances, Lutsenko said. If convicted, the suspects face up to 20 years in prison.

The suspected leader of the group graduated this year from MGU's chemistry department and was one of its best students, Lutsenko said.

He was reserved and unsociable but extremely interested in science, Gazeta.ru reported, citing his former classmates.

He "just had a hankering for easy money," a student told Gazeta.ru.

The names of the suspects are not being released pending the outcome of a police investigation, Lutsenko said. None of the suspects is older than 23.

Lutsenko also declined to identify any of the universities other than MGU where some of the suspects had studied.

"I can say that they are some of our most elite institutes," she said.

MGU officials could not be reached for comment Friday, and calls to the university's chemistry department went unanswered.

If the suspects are convicted, they will be expelled from their universities with no chance of reinstatement, Gazeta.ru said.