Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Two Kansas men sentenced for trafficking designer drugs

KANSAS CITY, KAN. - A father and son from Kansas who launched a global sales and supply network for smokable synthetic cannabinoids – also  called synthetic marijuana -- and other designer drugs were sentenced Tuesday to federal prison for violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

Clark Sloan, 55, Tonganoxie, Kan., was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. His son, Jonathan Sloan, 34, Lawrence, Kan., was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison.

In September 2014, they were convicted in a federal jury trial on 20 counts including one count of conspiracy, two counts of misbranding, 15 counts of mail fraud, one count of smuggling and one count of money laundering.

During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that the men conspired to manufacture and sell designer drugs, including a marijuana substitute called K2 that was named after the second-highest mountain in the world.

The business, which began in a shop in Lawrence, Kan., grew to encompass a chain of suppliers, retailers, wholesalers and business associates with locations in Kansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada and Indiana, as well as in other nations including Argentina, Latvia, Germany, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay. The defendants made at least $3.3 million from the sale of the drugs

Prosecutors presented evidence that Jonathan Sloan was co-owner of two businesses, Persephone's Journey, a retail store in Lawrence, Kan., and Bouncing Bear Botanicals, ostensibly a wholesaler of herbs and botanical products, with co-defendant Bradley Miller of Wichita, Kan. Bouncing Bear Botanicals was located in the basement of Persephone's Journey and then moved to a warehouse in Oskaloosa, Kan. Clark Sloan, who was Miller’s brother, developed and monitored the Web site for Bouncing Bear Botanicals and worked in marketing and Internet technologies.

Miller developed recipes for K2 and manufactured it. During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that:

  • The defendants manufactured and distributed K2 as an all natural product but it contained synthetic chemicals called JWH Compounds that mimic the effects of the THC in marijuana. Their products also contained solvents, either the alcohol Everclear or acetone, as well as other additives.
  • They manufactured and sold at least four types of K2 products: Standard, Citron, Blonde and Summit, with Standard being the least potent and Summit being the most potent, depending on the amount of JWH Compounds that were mixed with herbs.
  • The defendants manufactured the K2 without quality controls, resulting in inconsistent potencies. They intended K2 products to be smoked like marijuana by recreational drug users, but they falsely referred to K2 products as aromatic incense and falsely labeled them as not for consumption.

 “Consumers must always be aware that they put their health at risk when they buy drugs from unknown sources online and in stores,” said Catherine Hermsen, Special Agent in Charge, FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “OCI is committed to working to protect the U.S. public health.”

Co-defendant Bradley Miller is set for sentencing March 16.

Grissom commended the Food and Drug Administration, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi for their work on the case.