Los Angeles Men Convicted for Running Nationwide Synthetic Drug Trafficking Ring
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – A jury voted today to convict Andrew Raymond and Brian Requena, both of Los Angeles, on drug trafficking and money laundering charges related to their operation of a nationwide synthetic drug trafficking ring.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; Special Agent in Charge James R. Hunt, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; and Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), New York Field Office.
Acting United States Attorney Grant Jaquith stated: “Synthetic drugs are a scourge on our community and communities across the country. They masquerade as innocuous substances like potpourri and incense, but are in fact toxic and send many users to the hospital or to a worse fate. The defendants, operating from Los Angeles, made millions by spreading this poison nationwide in commercial packaging bearing brand names like Twilite, Black Diamond, Platinum XXX, Get Real, and No Mames. Now they face the prospect of years in prison, as well as forfeiture of their ill-gotten gains. Their convictions today demonstrate that we will investigate and prosecute synthetic drug traffickers to the fullest extent of the law, working with our dedicated law enforcement partners.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James R. Hunt stated: “These defendants manufactured synthetic cannabinoids and then distributed them nationwide, including in the upstate New York area. Due to diligent police work, these individuals were found guilty today and can no longer distribute these drugs, which have terrible public health impacts.”
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett stated: “CI is committed to using its expertise in investigating money laundering and other financial crimes to take down major drug traffickers such as these defendants.”
Raymond and Requena were convicted, following an 11-day trial, of conspiring to distribute synthetic drugs and launder money. The trial evidence demonstrated that they conspired to manufacture and distribute synthetic cannabinoids (also known as “Spice,” “Spike,” “K2,” or “synthetic marijuana”) throughout the country, including to multiple “head shops” in the Northern District of New York. At the height of their drug trafficking conspiracy, they were each making approximately $100,000 per week, and they had a large team of employees who manufactured, shipped and sold their products. Three other members of this conspiracy previously pled guilty to similar charges.
Documents found at the defendants’ warehouses in Los Angeles and on their computers showed that they understood their synthetic substances were controlled by federal drug laws. Additionally, the defendants went to great lengths to evade detection by law enforcement, including by setting up shell companies, using P.O. boxes to divert attention from the warehouse where they manufactured their product, and putting their company (Real Feel Products, Inc.) and all of its bank accounts in Requena’s name after DEA and other law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant on the defendants’ warehouse in February 2014.
The trial evidence also demonstrated that the defendants conspired to commit money laundering by wiring millions of dollars to China to purchase the powder form of the synthetic cannabinoid that they used in their finished product.
Raymond and Requena, who were ordered to jail following the jury verdict, will be sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Norman A. Mordue on December 1, 2017. They each face up to 20 years in prison on each count of conviction, a fine of up to $5 million, and forfeiture money judgements in excess of $10 million in addition to any fine. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
This case was investigated by DEA, IRS-CI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carla Freedman and Michael F. Perry.
Updated July 26, 2017