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Press Release

Columbia Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Selling Synthetic Marijuana

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Columia, Mo., business owner pleaded guilty in federal court today to distributing synthetic marijuana.


Rafiqul Islam Khan, 62, of Columbia, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt J. Whitworth to participating in a conspiracy to violate the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by trafficking in misbranded drugs.


Khan was the owner of Mari’s Gas Station at 1210 E. Prathersville Rd., Columbia. Khan admitted that he purchased synthetic marijuana from a co-conspirator and distributed synthetic marijuana at his business. Khan falsely and misleadingly referred to his synthetic marijuana products as “incense,” “herbal incense,” “potpourri,” “therapeutic potpourri,” and other erroneous names when, in fact, such products were intended for consumption in order to obtain a physiological effect of a “high.”


The synthetic marijuana products were misbranded drugs because they had false and misleading labels (which indicated they were not for human consumption); they did not bear adequate direction for use; or they did not bear a label containing the name and place of the business, the manufacturer, packer or distributor.


Boone County Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at Mari’s Gas Station on June 25, 2012, and seized numerous packages of synthetic marijuana, totaling approximately 16.191 kilograms. Khan admitted that he sold and purchased for sale, in aggregate, at least 30.4 kilograms of synthetic marijuana.


Under federal statutes, Khan is subject to a sentence of up to five 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 Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Callaway County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Updated June 28, 2016

Drug Trafficking