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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Arkansas

Friday, August 22, 2014

Heber Springs Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Drug Conspiracy Charge

Little Rock Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans, announced that Christopher Arnold Hogan, 47, of Heber Springs pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge related to possession with intent to distribute of 246 grams of Methylone, commonly referred to as “bath salts.”

“Bath salts, the common name for the drugs Christopher Hogan was distributing in the Heber Springs area, are extremely dangerous drugs,” stated Thyer. “They mimic the effects of commonly recognized drugs, such as methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as Ecstacy, but they are more potent and have a greater effect on the user. Through the coordinated efforts of the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service and the prosecutors in our office, this case has dismantled a drug distribution ring that was threatening the lives of teenagers and young adults in and around Heber Springs.”

“The illegal importation and distribution of bath salts is not only dangerous due to the drug itself, but also because users face potentially deadly contamination from toxic substances added by unregulated backroom manufacturers,” said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "Bath salts users frequently require emergency medical treatment, and HSI along with its law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively investigate and seek prosecution of anyone seeking to illegally import and distribute these dangerous illegal drugs."

On July 11, 2012, a grand jury indicted Hogan and five other defendants in an eight count Indictment charging conspiracy as well as possession with intent to distribute and distribution of Methylone, Pentedrone, MDMA, and MDPV. These synthetic narcotics are Schedule I controlled substances or analogs of Schedule I controlled substance, which are illegal to possess and which have no legitimate consumer use.

At the plea hearing before Judge Susan Webber Wright, Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner stated that in June, 2011, the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the distribution of synthetic narcotics, generally called “bath salts” in the Heber Springs area. The Sheriff’s Department determined the source for the bath salts was Hogan. In July, 2011, a search warrant was obtained for Hogan’s residence, and evidence of synthetic drug manufacturing, specifically a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, was seized. Hogan was charged in state court and made bond.

In January, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations intercepted a package in the mail coming from China addressed to Hogan. The package contained Pentedrone, a controlled substance analog of methcathinone. As the investigation continued, it was discovered that another package from China addressed to Hogan had been seized in San Diego, California in June, 2011, during a routine border interdiction of suspicious packages. This package was found to contain 246 grams of Methylone. HSI continued their joint investigation with the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Postal Inspection Service throughout the Spring of 2012, with confidential informants making controlled purchases of Pentedrone from Hogan and others who were obtaining the substance from Hogan.

A number of Hogan’s distributors were charged and pleaded guilty in this case. AUSA Gardner stated that if the charges against Hogan were to be tried in court, the co-defendants would testify that Hogan was receiving distributable quantities of controlled substance analogs that he ordered over the Internet from China. They would further testify that Hogan discussed with them that as long as the substance had a label stating it was not for human consumption, that they could not be prosecuted for distributing the substance. The witnesses would testify that they knew, and the defendant knew, that in fact the substances were intended to be ingested by the people who purchased them to get high.

Hogan faces maximum penalties of not more than 20 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $1,000,000, and at least 3 years of supervised release following release from prison.

This case was investigated by the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner.

Updated July 14, 2015