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Oklahoma Man Pleads Guilty To $8.2 Million K2 Conspiracy

JAN 25 (TULSA, Okla.) - John Ray James of Dewey, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Claire V. Egan to his role in a conspiracy related to the purchase and sale of $8.2 million of synthetic cannabinoids, also known as “K2,” at three retail smoke shops in Tulsa, Owasso and Claremore.  The plea was announced jointly by Drug Enforcement Administration-Dallas, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Salter and U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams, Sr.

“The successful conclusion of this investigation represents what can be achieved when law enforcement, the medical community, educators and concerned parents come together for the welfare of our children” said Salter.  “Synthetic cannabinoids are unpredictably dangerous and can be deadly.” 

At his change of plea hearing, James admitted that, from October 2011 to October 2014, he purchased for resale products falsely labeled as “potpourri,” “aromatherapy,” and “not for human consumption” which he knew contained synthetic drugs that customers purchased for human consumption.

“Synthetic drugs are a serious health threat that is especially dangerous to the young people of our communities,” said Williams.  “These synthetic drugs are sold with harmless sounding names to impressionable youth who are typically unaware of the harmful chemicals they are ingesting.  The chemicals in these drugs imported from China and Hong Kong are not approved for human consumption and have led to psychotic episodes, seizures and even death.”

Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Internal Revenue Service-Dallas Field Office, Kelly Carpenter added, “Synthetic drugs represent a serious public health problem and are generally marketed toward teens and young adults.  The consumption of these illegal substances endangers young people around the country and can result in serious health issues, including death.  We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the public and to dismantle the drug organizations that promote the use of these toxic chemicals for their own financial gain.”

James will face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  In addition, James agreed to the forfeiture of seized funds in the amount $1.7 million.

The investigation is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Catherine J. Depew.

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