FEB 07 (RENO, Nev.) – In the first federal jury trial of its kind in Nevada involving synthetic drugs commonly referred to as "spice," a Reno, Nevada man has been convicted of multiple counts related to the distribution and possession of the dangerous substances, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Iqbal Singh-Sidhu, 33, was convicted on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, of 16 counts of possession with intent to distribute or distribution of controlled substances, and controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption, and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premise as to his business. Singh-Sidhu was originally charged and arrested in March 2013, and the jury trial started on Monday.
"Purchasing and using these compounds is extremely dangerous and can be equated to playing Russian roulette," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "The chemicals used to make the drugs are continually altered and the substance you get one day will not be the same one you get the next day. Persons, including youth, are increasingly ingesting these dangerous combinations of chemicals.We are working diligently with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to investigate these cases, and will use federal laws to prosecute persons who recklessly distribute these substances."
According to the court records and evidence introduced at trial, on four separate occasions in September 2012, Singh-Sidhu knowingly and unlawfully distributed controlled substances, and analogues intended for human consumption, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act. The spice he distributed over the course of these four occasions was labeled "Diablo," "Hayze," "White Rhino," and "Smokin Dragon."
On Feb. 5, 2013, federal search warrants were executed at his business, Grab n Go Food n Liquors, located at 1801 West 4th Street, in Reno, and at his residence located at 3101 Platte River Drive, in Reno. Dozens of packages of several varieties of "spice" were found at his business, and three boxes and a garbage bag containing hundreds of packages of various types of "spice" were recovered at his home. The overall street value of the "spice" recovered at these premises containing controlled substances or analogues intended for human consumption was approximately $20,000.
The synthetic drugs Singh-Sidhu sold, and later possessed with intent to distribute at his business and his home in February 2013, contained one or more of the controlled substances, JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, and AM2201, and/or one or more of the analogues intended for human consumption, UR-144, XLR11, and 5-MeO-DALT. Synthetic drugs containing these substances have hallucinogenic effects on the central nervous system. The physiological effects these substances cause are stronger and more potent than those caused by marijuana.
Singh-Sidhu also unlawfully maintained the business of Grab n Go Food n Liquors for the purpose of distributing "spice" with these controlled substances, and analogues intended for human consumption.
Singh-Sidhu faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each count, except for the maintaining a drug-involved premises count, which carries a maximum fine of $500,000. Singh-Sidhu is scheduled to be sentenced in Reno on June 9, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, synthetic drugs are a rapidly emerging threat and there is an increasingly expanding array of synthetic drugs available. Use of synthetic drugs is alarmingly high, especially among young people. The contents and effects of synthetic drugs are unpredictable due to a constantly changing variety of chemicals used in manufacturing processes devoid of quality controls and government regulatory oversight. Health warnings have been issued by numerous public health authorities and poison control centers describing the adverse health effects associated with the use of synthetic drugs. The Administration has been working with federal, congressional, state, local, and non-governmental partners to put policies and legislation in place to combat this threat, and to educate people about the tremendous health risk posed by these substances. For more information on the risks and dangers of synthetic drugs, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/ondcp-fact-sheets/synthetic-drugs-k2-spice-bath-salts.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, including its Office of Diversion Control, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, in Arlington, Virginia.