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Press Release

Nevada Man Sentenced To 9 Years In Prison In Synthetic Drug Case

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

 RENO, Nev. – A northern Nevada man was sentenced this week to nine years in prison for distributing synthetic cannabinoids out of his convenience store business in Reno, and for storing large quantities of the substance for distribution in his home in Reno, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.   

Iqbal Singh-Sidhu, 34, was sentenced on Monday, June 9, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones.  Singh-Sidhu was convicted by a federal jury in February 2014 of 16 counts of possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances and controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption, and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premise.  It was the first federal jury trial of its kind in Nevada involving synthetic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as “spice.” 

“Synthetic drugs such as “spice” and “fake weed” are oftentimes more potent and dangerous than real marijuana and are being sold to an unwary public in convenience stores, head shops, gas stations and online,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden.  “These synthetics are powerful substances that are typically sprayed indiscriminately on a base product to create ‘spice,’ and when consumed have caused hallucinations and dangerous levels of overdose.  We are working diligently with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to prosecute persons who callously and recklessly distribute them.”

According to the court records and evidence introduced at trial, on four separate occasions in September 2012, Singh-Sidhu knowingly and unlawfully distributed controlled substances, and analogues intended for human consumption, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act.  The synthetic substances that he distributed over the course of these four occasions were labeled “Diablo,” “Hayze,” “White Rhino,” and “Smokin Dragon.”

On Feb. 5, 2013, agents executed federal search warrants at 1801 West 4th Street, in Reno, and at Singh-Sidhu’s residence at 3101 Platte River Drive, in Reno, and recovered hundreds of packages of various types of “spice” in ready to distribute packaging.  The overall street value of the “spice” found at his business and home was approximately $20,000.

The synthetic drugs Singh-Sidhu sold, and later possessed with intent to distribute at his business and his home in February 2013, contained one or more of the controlled substances, JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, and AM2201, and/or one or more of the analogues intended for human consumption, UR-144, XLR11, and 5-MeO-DALT.  Synthetic drugs containing these substances have hallucinogenic effects on the central nervous system.  The physiological effects these substances cause are stronger and more potent than those caused by marijuana.  

Singh-Sidhu also unlawfully maintained the business of Grab n Go Food n Liquors for the purpose of distributing “spice” containing these controlled substances, and analogues intended for human consumption. 

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, synthetic drugs are a rapidly emerging threat and there is an increasingly expanding array of synthetic drugs available.  Use of synthetic drugs is alarmingly high, especially among young people. The contents and effects of synthetic drugs are unpredictable due to a constantly changing variety of chemicals used in manufacturing processes devoid of quality controls and government regulatory oversight.  Health warnings have been issued by numerous public health authorities and poison control centers describing the adverse health effects associated with the use of synthetic drugs. The Administration has been working with federal, congressional, state, local, and non-governmental partners to put policies and legislation in place to combat this threat, and to educate people about the tremendous health risk posed by these substances.  For more information on the risks and dangers of synthetic drugs, go to

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James E. Keller and Carla Higginbotham and investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), including its Office of Diversion Control, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, in Arlington, Virginia
Updated January 29, 2015