Federal Jury Convicts Two Kansas Men For Trafficking In Synthetic Marijuana
TOPEKA, KAN. A father and son from Kansas who helped launch a global sales and supply network for a synthetic version of marijuana were convicted today on charges of violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
A federal jury convicted the men on charges of conspiring to manufacture and sell a marijuana substitute called K2 – named after the second-highest mountain in the world. The business, which began in a shop in Lawrence, Kan., grew to encompass a chain of suppliers, retailers, wholesalers and business associates with locations in Kansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada and Indiana, as well as in other nations including Argentina, Latvia, Germany, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay. The defendants made at least $3.3 million from the sale of the drugs.
A federal jury convicted Clark Sloan, 55, Tonganoxie, Kan., and his son, Jonathan Sloan, 33, Lawrence, Kan., on 20 counts including one count of conspiracy, two counts of misbranding, 15 counts of mail fraud, one count of smuggling and one count of money laundering.
The defendants were acquitted on five other counts.
During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Jonathan Sloan was co-owner of two businesses, Persephone's Journey, a retail store in Lawrence, Kan., and Bouncing Bear Botanicals, ostensibly a wholesaler of herbs and botanical products, with co-defendant Bradley Miller of Wichita, Kan. Bouncing Bear Botanicals was located in the basement of Persephone's Journey and then moved to a warehouse in Oskaloosa, Kan. Clark Sloan, who was Miller’s brother, developed and monitored the Web site for Bouncing Bear Botanicals and worked in marketing and Internet technologies.
Miller developed recipes for K2 and manufactured it. During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that:
- The defendants manufactured and distributed K2 as an Aall natural product@ but it contained synthetic chemicals called JWH Compounds that mimic the effects of the THC in marijuana. Their products also contained solvents, either the alcohol Everclear or acetone, as well as other additives.
- They manufactured and sold at least four types of K2 products: Standard, Citron, Blonde and Summit, with Standard being the least potent and Summit being the most potent, depending on the amount of JWH Compounds that were mixed with herbs.
- The defendants manufactured the K2 without quality controls, resulting in inconsistent potencies. They intended K2 products to be smoked like marijuana by recreational drug users, but they falsely referred to K2 products as aromatic incense and falsely labeled them as Anot for consumption.@
“The public is put at risk by those who distribute drugs that are misbranded because of deceptive labeling or inadequate directions for use,” said Catherine Hermsen, Special Agent in Charge of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “We will continue to work to prevent such drugs from reaching the U.S. market and to bring to justice those who attempt to circumvent FDA’s regulations, which protect the public health.”
Sentencing is set for Jan. 26, 2015. The crimes carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Distributing misbranded K2: A maximum penalty of three years and a fine up to $250,000.
Mail fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count.
Smuggling: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Conspiracy to commit money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $500,000.
Co-defendant Bradley Miller is awaiting trial.
Grissom commended the Food and Drug Administration, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi for their Work on the case.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.