Right now, Ryan Carroll wishes he could "call Saul," as the characters on Breaking Bad might do. The Fort Myers, Florida man who won a contest where he got to watch the series' finale with the show's cast – and who even got a Twitter shout-out from actor Aaron Paul – has been named as a major player in a synthetic marijuana distribution business by the Lee County Sheriff's Office, according to Southwest Florida's The News-Press. Authorities arrested the 28-year-old on New Year's Eve, and according to Naples Daily News, they booked him on felony charges of possession of a synthetic narcotic with the intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. He also faces a misdemeanor for maintaining a shop or vehicle for drugs.
At the Fort Myers drug bust, The News-Press reports police seized over $1 million worth of synthetic marijuana and arrested two other men, Benjamin Smith and James Lee Allen. The authorities allege that Carroll and the two other men used a cement mixer to blend plant matter with chemicals like acetone to make the drug, adding flavors like "jungle juice" and "electric banana." From there, they reportedly sent the synthetic pot around the U.S. The police are investigating whether other people were involved in the operation and if Carroll was working for someone like Breaking Bad drug mastermind Gustavo Fring.
"It's just kind of mind-boggling to think stuff like that can happen right next to you," Carroll's neighbor, Jim Mielke, told Naples Daily News. "We still don't even know what was going on."
Huffington Post reports that another neighbor, Peter Ryther, commented, "This is the Walter White next door, right?"
The News-Press reports that, along with the drugs, the authorities seized a "souvenir hazmat suit signed by Breaking Bad cast members." Carroll traveled to Los Angeles in September to watch the finale with the show's cast at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Regarding his love of the show, he told Florida's Naples Daily News, "If you start watching it, you can't stop. It's highly addicting, just like the meth they make [on the show]." Carroll and his friend, Ryan Voss, were reportedly filmed for a Breaking Bad documentary.
In related Breaking Bad news, the show's creator, Vince Gilligan, has been working on a spinoff series called Better Call Saul, which will center around the program's seedy lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk. He recently said that he's hoping to get actor Jonathan Banks to reprise his role as "fixer" Mike Ehremantraut. "It will be Saul Goodman's world, it won't be Walter White's, and it will have a different feel, even though there will be some overlap on the Venn Diagram that exists between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul," Gilligan said. "But it will have to succeed on its own terms as its own show. If it doesn't, it won't be satisfying, and satisfaction is the key word. We want to satisfy."