28 Indicted on Synthetic Drug Trafficking Charges
St. Louis, MO – Within the last thirty hours, twenty-eight people have either been arrested or have surrendered on multiple charges contained in four separate indictments alleging offenses involving the manufacturing and sale of synthetic drugs. Specifically charged in each indictment are: a) conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute Schedule I controlled substances and Schedule I controlled substance analogues; b) conspiracy to introduce and receive misbranded drugs in interstate commerce; c) conspiracy to import controlled substances and controlled substance analogues; d) conspiracy to receive, sell and facilitate the transportation of smuggled goods with forfeiture allegations; and e) money laundering counts.
The manufacture of synthetic drugs is a recent development designed to circumvent traditional drug laws by creating new chemical compounds that mimic the effects of drugs like marijuana and cocaine, but purport to avoid the classification of a controlled substance because of a chemical alteration. The synthetic drugs are most frequently marketed as legitimate products and sold in typical commercial outlets such as convenience stores and gas stations. The drugs masquerade as incense, potpourri, glass cleaner, bath salts, and plant food, just to name a few; their cost however is much higher than the normal commercial product they mimic.
One group of synthetic drugs is made up of cathinones, and is a “speed” type drug commonly marketed as bath salts. The synthetic cathinones are typically snorted and are packaged in containers with names such as Full Throttle, Fresh, Limited, Starry Nights, Twisted, Pump It and Blitz. Reported effects have included hypertension, paranoia, anxiety and even psychosis.
Another group of synthetic drugs is made from synthetic cannabinoids which are a far more powerful and unpredictable form of marijuana. The cannabinoids are typically smoked and are packaged in multi-gram packets with names such as Mega Kush, Mad Hatter, Bayou Blaster, Avalon, Pirates Booty, Lights Out, Golden Leaf, DEEW, Cloud 9, Primo, Optima and Crazy Eyes. Although commonly referred to as synthetic marijuana, the effects are far more powerful and dangerous than so-called natural marijuana, with reported additional effects, including excessive heart rate, vomiting and seizures.
United States Attorney Richard Callahan warned, "Parents should not be lulled into a false sense of confidence that these substances must be okay just because they were purchased down at the corner gas station or convenience store. The bottom line is that these drugs are extremely dangerous, and the ingestion of these substances has led to serious medical consequences requiring hospitalization and even death and suicide."
"These drugs can cause serious health problems or even kill those who ingest them," said James Gibbons, Deputy Special Agent in Charge for HSI Chicago, which oversees St. Louis. "Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to identify these criminal schemes, seize their unregulated contraband and bring purveyors of synthetic drugs to justice."
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James C. Lee stated, "IRS-Criminal Investigation is united with the rest of the law enforcement community in our resolve to financially disrupt criminal organizations that commit crimes against our society. IRS-CI will continue to investigate and protect the American people."
Charged in the first indictment (4:14CR00150 JAR) are:
- Anwer Rao, O’Fallon, IL
- Michael Lentsch, O’Fallon, IL
- Matthew Fiedler, Belleville, IL
- Larry Farmer, Jr., Keyesport, IL
- Charles Kinney, O’Fallon, IL
- Brandien Robinson, O’Fallon, IL
- Mansi Patel, Phoenix, AZ
Charged in the second indictment (4:14CR00152 FWS) are:
- Greg Sloan, St. Charles, MO
- Doug Sloan, Indianapolis, IN
- Igor Holdaiy, St. Louis, MO
- Elizabeth Pogue, Bridgeton, MO
- Charles Wolfe, St. Peters, MO
- Brett Beeman, O’Fallon, MO
- Sherri Beeman, O’Fallon, MO
- Roger Galvin, Charlack, MO
- John Galvin, St. Louis, MO
- Robert Jaynes, Jr., Indianapolis, IN
- Kirk Parsons, Indianapolis, IN
- David Neal, Carmel, IN
- Marcia Gronek, St. Peters, MO
Charged in the third indictment (4:14CR00175 AGF) are:
- Mark Palmer, Granite City, IL
- Anthony Palmer, Mt. Vernon, IL
- Samuel Leinicke, Arnold, MO
- Charles Wolfe, St. Peters, MO
- Robert Wolfe, Hazelwood, MO
- Joseph Gabrick, O’Fallon, MO
Charged in the fourth indictment (4:14CR000187 JAR) are:
- Pamela Tabatt, St. Peters, MO
- Richard Gross, Winfield, MO
- Paul Berra, Jr., Warrenton, MO
If convicted, the drug conspiracy charges and money laundering conspiracy charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison for each count and/or fines ranging from $500,000 to $1,000,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges. Additionally the indictments seek forfeiture of assets and property totaling more than $12 million.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional assistance was received from the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department, MO Lake Area Narcotics Enforcement Group, Metropolitan Enforcement Group for Southern IL, Southern Illinois Drug Task Force, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, as well as the prosecuting attorneys offices in St. Louis County, MO, St. Charles County, MO, Madison County, IL and St. Clair County, MO. Assistant United States Attorneys James Delworth, Erin Granger, Jennifer Winfield and John Mantovani are handling the cases for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.