Columbia Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Drugs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of Bocomo Bay, a Columbia, Mo., retail business, pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than $2 million of synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2.
Kevin E. Bay, 47, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to participating in the drug-trafficking conspiracy and to participating in a money-laundering conspiracy.
Bay, the owner of Bocomo Bay, admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substance analogues, also known as synthetic marijuana or K2, from March 1, 2011, to Oct. 2, 2013. K2 is a mixture of plant material that has been sprayed or mixed with a synthetic chemical compound similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. K2 products are often labeled as “incense,” but in reality are intended for human consumption as a drug.
Bay admitted that he purchased synthetic marijuana from various wholesalers, repackaged and relabeled the substances under his own “Bocomo Spice” label and sold them through his Bocomo Bay outlets. This conspiracy was responsible for the distribution of between 214 kilograms and 482 kilograms of synthetic marijuana.
Bay also admitted that he conspired with others to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of the illegal distribution of synthetic marijuana with the intent to promote the carrying on that activity. Bay transferred a total of $49,482 from the drug-trafficking proceeds in a series of transactions between bank accounts.
Under federal statutes, Bay is subject to a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Connelly. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Synthetic Designer Drugs
Over the past several years, smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, because they are easily available and, in many cases, they are more potent and dangerous than marijuana. These products consist of plant material that has been coated with dangerous psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. These synthetic cannabinoids are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. Brands such as K2, Spice, Blaze, and Red X Dawn are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose. However, they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human consumption or for medical use, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.
While many of the designer drugs being marketed today are not specifically prohibited in the Controlled Substances Act, the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act allows these drugs to be treated as controlled substances if they are proven to be chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance. This analogue provision specifically exists to combat these new and emerging designer drugs.