Former Traverse City Man Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Importing "Bath Salts" from China
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Joshua David Buerman, 27, formerly of Traverse City, Michigan, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on a charge originally brought here in the Western District of Michigan. He received 9 years in prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to import into the State of Michigan more than 5 kilograms of methylone from China. Buerman also received a concurrent 9 year sentence on his plea of guilty to a separate criminal charge stemming from his involvement in a conspiracy to import and distribute more than 15 kilograms of methylone in the State of New York.
Methylone is a synthetic stimulant having a chemical structure which closely resembles 3,4 methyelenedioxymethamphetamine, known commonly as “MDMA” or “ecstasy.” Methylone is often sold generically by the street term “bath salts” or “research chemicals.” Methylone was permanently placed into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in April 2013.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles said, “Synthetic drugs such as methylone are extremely dangerous. Users are often misled into believing synthetic drugs are less harmful than more commonly known street drugs, particularly by their innocuous sounding street name, ‘bath salts.’ In truth, synthetic drugs can lead to severe psychological dependence and death. Because synthetic drugs often have obscure origins, are imported from overseas, and contain misleading labeling, users often have no idea what kinds of chemicals they are putting in their bodies. We will vigorously prosecute those who illegally import and distribute these drugs.”
In February 2012, while living in Traverse City, Michigan, Joshua Buerman began purchasing quantities of methylone and several other synthetic drugs from a Chinese source of supply that he discovered over the internet. Over the course of the next several months, Buerman ordered more than 5 kilograms of methylone, all of which was delivered to him through the U.S. mail.
In June 2012, Buerman left the state Michigan and moved back to Rochester, New York where he continued to purchase and receive significant quantities of methylone online from the same Chinese supplier. In connection with the investigation of Buerman and his Chinese source of supply, law enforcement officials were able to determine that Buerman was actively ordering methylone from China and that he had recruited several local associates to assist him.
The investigation further revealed that the China-based supplier was shipping an assortment of controlled substances and controlled substance analogues to numerous customers located throughout the United States and abroad, including, but not limited to Austria, Canada, Finland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Lithuania.
The investigation generated more than 450 leads which were disseminated to various police agencies across the United States, resulting in the nationwide seizure of more than 70 kilograms of methylone and numerous controlled substance analogues, all of which had been shipped from China. Investigative leads also resulted in at least 54 arrests nationwide, including Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, California and Texas.
The Michigan portion of the investigation was handled by the Michigan State Police and Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by AUSA Clay Stiffler.