Skip to main content
Press Release

Cedar Rapids Synthetic Drug Distributor Sentenced to Nearly 20 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
McCauley has 68 prior convictions, sold synthetic cannabinoids to the homeless

A man who sold synthetic cannabinoids (K2) to homeless people was sentenced on June 13, 2018, to nearly 20 years in federal prison.

Benjamin Michael McCauley, age 45, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a December 5, 2017, guilty plea to possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances called XLR-11, AB‑PINACA, and AB‑CHMINACA, AB‑FUBINACA.

In a plea agreement, McCauley admitted he started selling synthetic cannabinoids in 2014.  McCauley’s brother, Matthew McCauley, was prosecuted in federal court at that time for using his Cedar Rapids business, the Fragrance Hut, as a place to sell illegal synthetic drugs.  Benjamin McCauley admitted that after his brother was arrested on the federal drug charges, Benjamin reached out to Matthew’s online suppliers to purchase synthetic cannabinoid products, but was rejected.  McCauley and an associate then used the associate’s name to order the synthetic drugs.  McCauley also admitted that he regularly supplied another individual with synthetic cannabinoids to sell to people in the free lunch line in Iowa City. 

In March 2015, officers conducted a search of McCauley’s residence and seized over 240 grams of synthetic cannabinoids in product packaging labeled “Buddah Shack,” “Joker,” and “Get Real.”  The packaging also contained disclaimers that the products were “not for human consumption.”  McCauley admitted he possessed the synthetic cannabinoids and intended to distribute some or all of them to others, whom he knew would consume the products.  McCauley also admitted that he used and distributed methamphetamine.  Court documents reflect that McCauley and his associates would also recruit homeless people to purchase boxes of pseudoephedrine so McCauley and his associates could manufacture methamphetamine.  McCauley and his associates would sometimes pay the homeless people for the pseudoephedrine with synthetic cannabinoids.

McCauley was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.  At the sentencing hearing, Judge Reade noted that McCauley had 68 prior criminal convictions, including several for violent offenses.  Court records reflect that McCauley’s criminal history included a conviction for domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury in which he assaulted a woman by “grabbing her and hitting her on the back of her head several times” and “[w]hen she turned and looked up at the defendant and pleaded for him to stop, he struck her between the eyes, knocking her unconscious.”

McCauley was sentenced to 235 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

McCauley is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case investigated by the High Risk Unit of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Corrections and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Chatham. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 17-CR-74-LRR.

Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated June 13, 2018

Drug Trafficking