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Press Release

Wholesale Synthetic Drug Distributor Convicted of Drug and Money Laundering Conspiracies

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A man who wholesale distributed synthetic drugs commonly known as “K2” and “bath salts” was convicted by a jury after a 3-day trial in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Muhammad Anwar, age 49, from West Des Moines, Iowa, was convicted of conspiring to distribute controlled substances and conspiring to launder drug money.  The verdict was returned yesterday afternoon following approximately 8 hours of jury deliberations.

Evidence at trial showed that Anwar served as a wholesale distributor of the illegal substances and that, for a period nearly two years, members of the conspiracy were purchasing between $100,000 and $1,000,000 per month from the illegal products’ manufacturers.  The products involved in the conspiracy were sold across Iowa, including to stores in Waterloo, Cambridge, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines.

The K2 products contained two synthetic cannabinoids, XLR-11 and AB-FUBINACA, with effects similar to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, but they were marketed as potpourri or incense.  The products were also given highly suggestible trade names, such as “Mr. Nice Guy,” “Mr. Happy,” “Mind Trip,” “Diablo,” “Scooby Snax,” “Hydro,” “Lol,” and “777.”  The bath salt products included pentedrone, a synthetic cathinone, which is a stimulant similar to methamphetamine or cocaine.  The bath salts were marketed as having cleaning properties but were sold in small jars containing less than half a gram of powder.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge John A. Jarvey will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Anwar was taken into custody by the United States Marshal after the verdicts were read and will remain in custody pending sentencing.  He faces a possible maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, $1,500,000 in fines, $200 in special assessments, and a lifetime of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Marion Police Department, the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services; the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Homeland Security; the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Intelligence Division, the Des Moines Police Department; the Story County Sheriff’s Department; and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Chatham and Jacob Schunk.

Court file information at The case file number is CR-15-2005-JAJ.

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Updated October 30, 2015

Drug Trafficking