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South Carolina Native Sentenced to 180 Months for Leadership Role in a-PVP Trafficking and International Money Laundering Conspiracies

FEB 23 (GREENEVILLE, Tenn.) – On Feb. 19, 2016, Joshua Lee Lindsey, 30, of Lyman, S.C., was sentenced by the Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 180 months in federal prison for his leadership role in an extensive a-PVP (alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone) distribution conspiracy and an international money laundering conspiracy involving northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia, western North Carolina and western South Carolina.

A-PVP is a synthetic drug primarily ordered from China, which is commonly referred to on the street as “gravel” or “flakka.”  Common effects on users include: extreme paranoia; hallucinations; elevated blood pressure; extremely high body temperature; excited delirium; staying awake for days; hostility and having exceptional strength without apparent fatigue.  These characteristics make the drug not only very dangerous for the user but also for law enforcement responding to people who are high on it.  A-PVP has been referred to by users of the substance as “meth on steroids.” 

According to his plea agreement on file with U.S. District Court, Lindsey admitted that between January 2012 and October 2014 he conspired to distribute and was accountable for a conservative estimate of between 35,000 and 75,000 grams (35 to 75 kilograms) of a-PVP.  Lindsey and Randall Scott Braddock, 50, of Hendersonville, N.C., became involved in obtaining a-PVP from China and redistributing it for profit as early as January 2012.  Braddock was also charged in this case and was previously sentenced to serve 192 months in federal prison.  

The investigation in this case resulted in the recovery of a large number of emails between Lindsey and a particular a-PVP supplier in China.  In these emails, Lindsey asked for the “most potent” and “top quality” a-PVP they had available.  He asked for the “big rocks,” because “demand was high” and was concerned because there had been complaints about a recent drop in potency.  Lindsey asked that the supplier in China label the a-PVP as acrylic paint and made up a fake name of ‘AcryliCO’ for the company to ship to him to avoid detection from law enforcement.  He requested the supplier send the a-PVP to his address in South Carolina, instead of North Carolina or Tennessee because his partner Braddock had a previous arrest in North Carolina for dealing in a-PVP and other substances.  In an email to the supplier Lindsey wrote, “I already gave u good business in n.c.. and Landrum, sc, All that was brought to you by me!  Scott Braddock and Rick Lowe!  The whole nc tn boom last year!  You’re welcome!”  Lindsey expressed his gratification to the China a-PVP supplier by emailing, “You have been a blessing for me!  My life is much better now!” 

Lindsey later recruited and hired other individuals from South Carolina to assist in the conspiracy by providing them money to send to the supplier in China via Western Union.  After the 500 to 1,000 gram shipments of a-PVP were received in South Carolina, Lindsey instructed the others to repackage it into 50 gram bags and deliver them to Braddock in Hendersonville, N.C., for distribution to a very large number of other dealers and customers, primarily in northeast Tennessee. 

Others who were charged and previously sentenced in this conspiracy include Richard McNeal Hillman, Ronnie Lee Shelton, Austin Michael Stallard, Johnny Michael Stallard, Desera Jade Allen, Phillip Wayne Mullins, Johnny White, Michael Ray Mangum, Eric Matthew Vance, Evelyn Vickers, James Elmer Mclain, Joshua Brandon Hinkle and Richard Allen Lowe, who were sentenced to serve 188 months, 235 months, 121 months, 180 months, 151 months, 151 months, 120 months, 120 months, 135 months, 110 months, 110 months, 110 months and 80 months in federal prison respectively.  

Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation included: the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Department of Homeland Security Investigations; the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office; the Kingsport Police Department; the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department; the Johnson City the Police Department; the Greeneville, the Tennessee Police Department; the Hendersonville, the North Carolina Police Department; and the Scott County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor represented the United States.

This case was a result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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