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Press Release

Mississippi Man Sentenced to 46 Months in Federal Prison for Possession With Intent to Distribute Synthetic Cannabinoids

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

United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that United States District Court Judge William H. Steele sentenced Clarence Benard Willis on September 18, 2018 to serve a term of imprisonment of 46 months followed by 3 years of supervised release for the possession with the intent to distribute FUB-AMB in violation of 21 USC § 841(a)(1) 813, 802(32)(A).  The defendant previously plead guilty on July 25, 2018. 
On September 13, 2016, Homeland Security Investigations along with the United States Postal Service began an investigation of Willis for the illegal importation of Synthetic Cannabinoids, a Schedule I controlled substance, into the United States from China.  On the date of the incident, a package destined for Gulfport, MS came through the United States Postal Services in Mobile, Alabama.  The package was an international parcel coming from China.  The package was suspicious and was opened by a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) under his extended border search authority.
The package was found to contain approximately one kilogram of a substance called FUB-AMB, a controlled substance analogue of AB-FUBINACA, a Schedule I controlled substance. Controlled substance analogues are not scheduled controlled substances. However, Title 21 of the United States Code states that if a substance that is not a listed controlled substance has a chemical structure of which is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance and has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance, and it intended for human consumption, it can be charged as a controlled substance analogue.  The statute essentially prevents rogue chemists from slightly tweaking the chemical structure of a controlled substance and then claiming the substance is not a controlled substance and thus not illegal to sell. 
United States Attorney Moore stated that synthetic cannabinoids, often shipped into the United States from China, are typically sprayed with a variety of chemicals. The chemicals can cause a severe physical reaction, and even death, when ingested by the user. Often times the users have no idea what dangerous chemicals they are ingesting. Moore further stated that his office would continue to aggressively prosecute individuals and organizations that import into the United States and distribute these dangerous analogues. Moore added that foreign shippers of these dangerous drugs are also not necessarily beyond the reach of his office if sufficient evidence is developed and the extradition process is successful.
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Service, and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit.  The Drug Enforcement Administration Laboratory was also extremely helpful in providing experts that were prepared to testify that FUB-AMB is a controlled substance analogue of AB-FUBINACA, a Schedule I controlled substance.  The case was prosecuted by Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDEFT) Lead Attorney, Assistant United States Attorney George F. May and Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence J. Bullard for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama. AUSA May commended all the investigators and specifically Dr. Terrence Boos the Section Chief of the Drug Chemical Evaluation Section of the Drug Enforcement Administration laboratory for his support in providing expert advice and expert witnesses for the case.

Updated November 5, 2018