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Press Release

Hampton-Based Spice Retailer and Wholesaler Pleads Guilty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Jayson Mickle, 31, of Hampton, pleaded guilty today to charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from 2008 to 2014, Mickle sold smokable synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as “spice,” in the Hampton Roads area and, eventually, nationwide. Spice consists of plant material sprayed with ever changing active chemical ingredients often produced in clandestine laboratories in China. These chemicals mimic the effects of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Mickle sold blends of spice with names like Hampster Purp, HPT Cherry, Bizarro, and Orgazmo. Although the packets of spice were labeled “not for human consumption,” Mickle knew that the spice was to be smoked for its intoxicating properties.

Mickle began sales through retail stores by the name of Hampton Pipe and Tobacco, located in Hampton, Newport News, Gloucester and Norfolk. In 2010, Mickle also began a wholesale operation online called Blazin Herbs. In 2013, the wholesale outfit’s name was changed to 7 City Gifts. At times, Mickle was supplied by Zencense, which was a large-scale spice producer and wholesaler based in Florida. Between January 2012 and April 2013, Mickle’s spice distribution operation purchased in excess of 1,000 kilograms of spice for resale from Zencense. Mickle’s operations also supplied the Red Barn, a convenience store in Newport News, with spice in late 2013 into early 2014. From 2010 to 2012 alone, Mickle’s retail operation, Hampton Pipe and Tobacco, grossed over $9,600,000 in spice sales. On average, Hampton Pipe and Tobacco would retail spice by the gram for about $8.00 per gram.

Mickle was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2016 on a superseding indictment. Mickle faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 13. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Michael K. Lamonea, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Norfolk; Richard Myers, Chief of Police, Newport News Police Department; Terry L. Sult, Chief of Police, Hampton Police Department; Maria L. Kelokates, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Hurt and Kevin Hudson, as well as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Cross-Rochefort, are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:15-cr-18.

Updated July 5, 2016

Drug Trafficking