Local Man Convicted of Armed Drug Trafficking of Synthetic Narcotics
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 34-year-old Corpus Christi resident has admitted he possessed with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoids and a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
On Feb. 27, 2017, Andrew Hernandez was arrested at a local restaurant in Corpus Christi for an outstanding felony warrant. As he was taken into custody, officers removed a loaded .380 caliber handgun from his pocket. As a previously convicted felon, Hernandez, is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition per federal law. At the time of arrest, officers also discovered several thousand dollars in U.S. currency and 72 packets of synthetic cannabinoids. Laboratory analysis confirmed the presence of FUB-AMB, which is controlled under the Controlled Substance Analog Act.
Synthetic cannabinoids are chemical compounds that mimic the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. These chemical compounds can be applied to carrier mediums such as plant material and ingested using rolling papers, pipes, vaporizers or otherwise taken orally. Synthetic cannabinoids are usually sold in small, foil or plastic bags containing dried leaves (resembling potpourri) and is marketed as incense that can be smoked. It is commonly sold and known on the street as synthetic marijuana, fake weed, legal and by its popular brand names such as Spice, K2, Kush, Klimaxx, Mr. Nice Guy, Pot-Pourri, Cloud 9, Geeked Out and many others.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey accepted the plea today and set sentencing for May 14, 2018. At that time, Hernandez faces up to 20 years and a possible $1 million fine for the synthetic drug conviction as well as a minimum of five years and up to life for the illegal possession of a firearm which must be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
The Corpus Christi Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt is prosecuting the case.