Boca Raton Man Convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Synthetic Marijuana in Federal Prosecution
June 11 (Miami) – Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, and Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced that defendant Joel Lester, 52, of Boca Raton, Florida, pled guilty on Friday, June 8, 2012, before the U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra.
Lester pled guilty to a one-count Information charging him with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute synthetic marijuana, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. As part of his plea agreement, Lester agreed to forfeit $300,000.
According to documents filed and statements made in court, Lester owned Nature and Health, a business in Boca Raton, Florida, through which Lester marketed and sold synthetic marijuana products to convenience stores and gas stations where the products were then made available for sale to members of the general public.
On March 1, 2011, the DEA placed an emergency ban on many synthetic drugs. Many of the synthetic marijuana products marketed and sold by Lester, including Mr. Nice Guy brand synthetic marijuana products, contained substances which had been banned by the DEA. According to the plea agreement, during the course of the conspiracy, Lester knowingly distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute at least 10 kilograms, but not more than 20 kilograms, of banned synthetic marijuana products.
Sentencing has been scheduled for August 24, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. At sentencing, Lester faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of DEA. This prosecution marks the first federal conviction in Florida stemming from the distribution of synthetic drugs.