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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Defendant Sentenced in International Multi-Million Dollar Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute Designer Drugs


Largest Synthetic Drug Prosecution in the District of Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. – Ryan Ahidjou “Bo” Scott, 34, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, was sentenced by Honorable Ancer L. Haggerty to 96 months in prison following his convictions for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The convictions stemmed from his role in leading an international drug-trafficking organization responsible for distributing over $5 million of synthetic designer drugs.  The defendant was charged in federal court in May 2012, and pled guilty on May 27, 2014.    

“This long-term investigation took down one of the largest synthetic drug manufacturers on the West Coast,” said U. S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.  “These synthetic designer drugs are dangerous and we are fortunate to have partner agencies – HSI, IRS, and the DEA – who are committed to stopping the distribution of these poisons to our kids.”

The investigation began in 2011 when Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents detected suspicious shipments imported from Peru destined for defendant Ryan Bo Scott’s company KTW Enterprises.  Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), executed a search warrant at defendant’s company in April 2011.  There, they seized over 500 pounds of synthetic drug products packaged in 1 gram packets labeled as “K2” and “not for human consumption.”  During the next several months, forensic experts employed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confirmed the presence of over a dozen types of chemical compounds in the seized drug products that were both scheduled drugs and analogues of the same.

Through the remainder of 2011 and into early 2012, HSI and IRS agents, working closely with financial analysts from the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), gathered evidence that Scott was running a worldwide drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy selling various synthetic designer drugs.    Members of the conspiracy mixed chemical compounds together with herb extracts and marketed the resulting “K2” products as “incense.”  Additionally, the defendants used the internet to market and distribute “K2” and purchased dozens of domain names, including “k2drugs.com” and “k2incense.org” to obtain a monopoly on the market for K2.  The investigation culminated on May 15, 2012, with the execution of search warrants at the defendants’ residences and a warehouse in Vancouver, Washington, where agents seized hundreds of pounds of dried plant materials, packaging equipment, and chemicals.  Pictures from the search warrants are attached:

The harmful and sometimes fatal consequences of synthetic drugs have been gaining attention nationally and beyond.  In March 2011, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised its emergency scheduling powers placing these synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) because it was necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety.  Schedule I is the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act, and it is reserved for those substances with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use for treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.

Synthetic cathinones (also known as “bath salts”) act as central nervous system stimulants causing rapid heart rate (which may lead to heart attacks and strokes), chest pains, nosebleeds, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.  People who abuse these substances have reported agitation, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, depression, paranoia, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and panic attacks.  Users have also reported effects including impaired perception of reality, reduced motor control, and decreased ability to think clearly. One of the most recent exposes on the dangers of synthetic drugs was aired last week on CNN, entitled “How Synthetic Drugs are Killing Kids.” http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/01/us/synthetic-drugs-investigation.   Other national and local news agencies have reported the dangers and epidemic of synthetic drugs.  http://time.com/57167/rise-of-fake-pot/#57167/rise-of-fake-pot (noting that the “most complicated drug problem in the world right now is not meth or cocaine or heroin. It is synthetic drugs, also known as legal highs or designer drugs”); http://eugenedailynews.com/2012/10/synthetic-drug-spice-linked-to-harmful-highs

http://www.katu.com/news/medicalalert/Synthetic-drug-spice-linked-to-kidney-failure-172872251.html (linking a half-dozen kidney failures in Oregon and Southwest Washington to local synthetic drug use).

“The loop hole the defendants thought they were exploiting closed in on them, but not before they made millions marketing illegal ‘incense’ to young people and military members,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle. “This was a despicable act considering the proof-positive evidence we now have of the harmful effects of the drug analogs associated with their illicit products. Fortunately, the investigative efforts of HSI and the IRS dismantled this major supplier of Spice.”

This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Leah K. Bolstad and Michelle H. Kerin.

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Updated February 5, 2015