Local Man Sentenced on Federal conspiracy Charges Involving Synthetic Drug Trafficking
St. Louis, MO – Charles Wolfe, 57, from St. Peters, MO was sentenced to 186 months in prison in connection with conspiracy charges involving synthetic drug trafficking and money laundering. Wolfe’s co-defendants Mark Palmer, 47, from Granite City, IL, was sentenced to 168 months in prison and Sam Leinicke, 27 from Arnold, MO was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
According to court documents, Charles Wolfe d/b/a Psychedelic Blur, was a large scale distributor of synthetic cannabinoids also known as “K2” or “incense” and synthetic cathinones also known as “bath salts”. Wolfe distributed these dangerous drugs to customers located throughout the United States. Wolfe had a number of sources of supply, including Mark Palmer who manufactured the synthetic drugs with chemicals imported from China. Wolfe’s other suppliers included, but were not limited to defendants Anwer Rao, from O`Fallon Illinois, Michael Lentsch, from O`Fallon, IL, Brett Beeman, from O`Fallon, MO, Roy Ehrett, from Kansas City, MO and Robert Jaynes, from Indianapolis, IN whom have pled guilty. Samuel Leinicke manufactured the synthetic drugs for a period of time on behalf of Palmer.
After making adjustments for sentencing, Wolfe was responsible for the distribution of the marijuana equivalent of over 481,000 kilograms of marijuana and the laundering of millions of dollars in drug proceeds.
The charges include conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues for human consumption, conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to import controlled substances and controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption into the United States and conspiracy to receive in interstate commerce imported goods with a false manifest or documentation. In order to prove the substances are controlled substance analogues it must be shown that the substance had a substantially similar chemical structure as a controlled substance and that it also had a substantially similar stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system as a controlled substance. If intended for human consumption, the substance is treated as a Schedule I controlled substance.
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 and are usually sold in 1 gram, 3 gram, 5 gram, and 10 gram packages for prices ranging from $15.00 to $100.00 each.
Synthetic cathinones, also known as “bath salts,” are human-made substances with stimulant effects. These synthetic cathinones are typically smoked, snorted or injected and are packaged in containers with names such as Full Throttle, Fresh, Limited, Starry Nights, Twisted, Pump It and Blitz. Rao and Lentsch manufactured and marketed cathinones under the name “Go Go.” Reported effects have included hypertension, paranoia, anxiety, psychosis and in some cases death.
Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the main psychoactive chemical in marihuana. Unlike THC, however, most synthetic cannabinoids are “full agonists.” That is, they activate the body’s type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1) to a greater degree (i.e., at 100%) than THC, which activates the CB1 receptors only at 30 to 50 percent. Additionally, unlike THC, synthetic cannabinoids do not contain the additional substances that moderate their adverse effects. Synthetic 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, and Golden Leaf. Rao and Lentsch manufactured and marketed their own blends of synthetic cannabinoids under the names “Mad Hatter,” “Deew,” “Cloud 9 Optima,” “Crazy Eyes,” and “Primo.” 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, organ failure and death.
Charles Wolfe, Mark Palmer and Samuel Leinicke were found guilty in October 2017 after a 15-day trial to conspiracy drug charges and money laundering charges.
This case was investigated by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Postal Inspection Service. 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 attorney 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 and Jennifer Winfield are handling the cases for the U.S. Attorney's Office.