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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birmingham Man Sentenced To Five Years In Prison For Manufacturing And Selling Synthetic Marijuana

BIRMINGHAM -- A federal judge today sentenced a Birmingham man to five years and three months in prison for manufacturing synthetic marijuana and distributing it across the country from his apartment in Birmingham's Southside community, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and U.S. Postal Inspector Frank Dyer.

U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced ROBERT JAMES PRESSLER, 28, one count of conspiracy to manufacture with intent to distribute the controlled chemical substance XLR11, or "Spice." Pressler pleaded guilty to the charge in December. Judge Kallon ordered Pressler to forfeit $238,428 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity. Pressler must report to prison May 16.

Pressler used his apartment as a laboratory for mixing dried plants and herbs with the XLR11, and used the U.S. Postal Service to ship the synthetic marijuana across the country - cash on delivery, according to court records. He used websites, including "bobsbud" and "bobswackytobacky," to take orders for the substance and conducted the transactions under the business name, Ninja Foot LLC, which had a Birmingham post office box.

Although Pressler's websites noted that the product was not for human consumption, the government introduced e-mails during Wednesday's hearing that showed he knowingly sold the Spice for smoking as synthetic marijuana.

On the websites, Pressler presented the synthetic marijuana as "herbal incense" and also advertised and sold 5FUR144 -- the XLR11 controlled substance -- in bulk as a "research chemical," according to his plea agreement with the government. Prices for 5FUR144 were listed on one site in a range from $50 for five grams to more than $5,000 per kilogram.

Among mail Pressler received at his apartment in 2012 and 2013 were several large packages from China with shipping labels indicating they contained various chemicals, and some listed weights of at least three kilograms, or nearly seven pounds, according to his plea agreement. The agreement also noted that China is a known source for purchase of chemicals used in the production of synthetic marijuana.

Postal inspectors found COD records for Pressler and Ninja Foot between December 2012 and June 2013 that totaled more than $100,000, according to court records.

A second Birmingham man, Seth Alexander Batten, 30, also pleaded guilty in December to the conspiracy to manufacture and distribute XLR11. Batten worked with Pressler to manufacture and ship synthetic marijuana, according to Pressler's plea agreement. Batten is scheduled for sentencing April 23.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, along with the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board's state narcotics team, and the Birmingham Police Department, investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney John B. Felton is prosecuting.

Updated March 19, 2015