TOPEKA, KAN. – Three Kansas men who launched a global sales and supply network for a synthetic version of marijuana have been charged with violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
A 64-page federal indictment alleges the men began selling K2 – named after the second-highest mountain in the world – at a shop in Lawrence, Kan., and quickly expanded the business to encompass a chain of suppliers, retailers, wholesalers and business associates that reached to California; Massachusetts; New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; Las Vegas, Nev.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Argentina; Latvia, Germany, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay.
The indictment also alleges the defendants unlawfully smuggled and distributed a Chinese-made diet drug called Que She.
Named in the indictment are:
Bradley Miller, 55, Wichita, Kan., who was part owner of Persephone’s Journey, a retail store in Lawrence, Kan., and Bouncing Bear Botanicals, ostensibly a wholesaler of herbs and botanical products. Bouncing Bear Botanicals was located in the basement of Persephone’s Journey and then moved to a warehouse in Oskaloosa, Kan. Miller developed recipes for K2 and manufactured it.
Clark Sloan, 54, Tonganoxie, Kan., Miller’s brother, who developed and monitored the Bouncing Bear Botanical Web site and worked in marketing and Internet technologies.
Jonathan Sloan, 32, Lawrence, Kan., Clark Sloan’s son, who was co-owner with Miller of Persephone’s Journey and Bouncing Bear Botanicals.
Each of them is charged with the following:
One count of conspiracy to distribute a misbranded drug
One count of distributing K2, which is a misbranded drug.
One count of distributing Que She, a misbranded drug.
Eighteen counts of mail fraud.
One count of smuggling Que She into the United States
One count of smuggling K2 out of the United States
One count of smuggling Que She out of the United States
One count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment alleges:
– The defendants manufactured and distributed K2 as an “all 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 “not for consumption.” On Sacred Journey’s Facebook page they promoted what they called “K2 Smoke” as follows: “Ask about our new K2 smoke :) K2 = the second highest peak in the world :) Enjoy your journey!”
– Miller and Jonathan Sloan mailed samples of K2 to retail stores along with brochures and pricing information. They gave out free samples of K2 on what they called “Sample Sundays.”
The indictment quotes from e-mails the defendants sent and received including the following:
– “I made a new batch...If this flies pretty fast, maybe we can make half a million or so real quick and then bail.”
– “We could name the whole line off of mountains. The higher the strength, the higher the mountain.”
– “Big shipments of some weird substance are going to raise lotsa red flags...As soon as they figure out that it gets people high – BOINK – illegal.”
– “I know that money looks good...But I think it is walking a shaky line. Playing one step ahead of the feds is whacked out.”
Upon conviction, 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 or misbranded Que She: 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 Que She into the United States: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Smuggling Que She or Que She out of the United States: 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.
The Food and Drug Administration investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway is prosecuting.