Missouri Mother and Son are Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms on Drug Conspiracy Charges
“This is the first internet drug distribution case prosecuted in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Ray Gruender.
St. Louis, Missouri: A Festus area mother and son were sentenced to prison this morning on charges of conspiracy to distribute for human consumption 1,4-butanediol, an analogue of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (commonly known as GHB), William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the DEA St. Louis Division and United States Attorney Ray Gruender and announced today.
This case was part of a nationwide Drug Enforcement Administration operation known as “Operation Webslinger” coordinated by their joint law enforcement program called the Special Operations Division, which is comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and IRS, as well as attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Locally, the Drug Enforcement Administration was assisted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the St. Louis County and Festus, Missouri Police Departments. Assistant United States Attorneys James Delworth and John Davis handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the DEA St. Louis Division, today’s sentencing of Cassandra and Joshua Harvey represents a major victory in the fight against club and predatory drugs. These defendants were part of Operation WEBSLINGER, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most significant national investigation to date targeting a prolific trafficking organization distributing GHB, GBL and 1-4 BD, all of which can be used as date rape drugs. This operation developed evidence sufficient to convict these traffickers with using the internet and the anonymity of cyberspace to distribute these dangerous drugs. Through this investigation, DEA was able to track these predatory drugs and their analogues from legitimate chemical wholesalers to the Harvey’s, who then packaged the drugs for both wholesale and retail distribution. Through this international investigation DEA was able to bring charges against 175 individuals in North America and Europe and to slow the spread of these highly dangerous controlled substances.
CASSANDRA HARVEY, 54, of the 100 block of North 2nd Street, Festus, Missouri, was sentenced to168 months in prison. Her son and co-defendant, JOSHUA HARVEY, 24, of the 1300 block of Scenic Drive, Herculaneum, Missouri, was sentenced to100 months in prison. There is no parole in the federal system. They appeared this morning before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton. On October 28, 2003, each defendant pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to distribute 1,4 butanediol, an analog of (GHB). Additionally, both defendants pled guilty to a forfeiture count, and this morning Judge Hamilton ordered the forfeiture of various items that were acquired from this drug conspiracy. Items to be forfeited are $319,000 in U.S. currency, three vehicles, jewelry, firearms, coins and real estate, which were acquired from this drug conspiracy. More than 2000 gallons of 1,4- butanediol and $300,000 cash were seized at the time of their arrest.
Cassandra Harvey and her son, Joshua Harvey, operated a business over the internet by maintaining a web site that offered 1,4 butanediol for sale under the guise of a cleaning product utilizing the name “Miracle Organic Solvent.” However, both mother and son admitted with their pleas in October that they knew the product they sold was being used for human consumption. Cassandra Harvey had the principle role in the business and Joshua was an active, knowing employee.
Their internet site advertised 1,4 butanediol as a cleaning product with various uses including spot remover, paint stripper and as a cleaning agent for computer circuit boards, grating and brickwork and tile. Cassandra Harvey received the 1,4 butanediol in 55 gallon drums from chemical manufacturers by falsifying her intended end use of the product. The Harveys admitted to the distribution of more than 10,000,000 dosage units. This amount of 1,4 butanediol represents the approximately 2000 gallons seized from storage facilities utilized by Cassandra Harvey and the total internet sales of 1,4 butanediol.
1,4- butanediol is a chemical intermediate generally classified as a captive use product; that is, it is not intended for residential consumers, but is used in the manufacture of other products. 1,4- butanediol is an analogue of GHB. The chemical structure of 1,4 butanediol is substantially similar to GHB, and when ingested into the human body, converts into GHB. GHB popularly known as “G” is a schedule one depressant. It has a euphoric effect similar to alcohol intoxication. It can also have an amnesiac affect, and for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as a date rape drug. Mismanagement of the dosage units of GHB is very dangerous and can lead to tragic results. Over 72 deaths have been attributed to GHB nationwide.