May 26, 2015
Contact: SA Timothy Desmond
Phone Number: (617) 557-2100
Epping Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy Charge Related To Distribution Of Synthetic Cannabinoids
(CONCORD, N.H. - Ryan Johnson, 32, of Epping, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire to conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, announced Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England and Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith. Johnson admitted that he and others had manufactured and distributed synthetic cannabinoid products containing controlled substances that bore misleading labels that stated that the products were “not
for human consumption.” Packaging on another product falsely stated that the product “does not contain any illegal synthetic cannabinoids or any product banned by state or federal law.” The products that were being manufactured by Johnson were in fact intended for human consumption and were used by consumers to get high. The products also contained substances that were not listed on the packaging materials. As part of his plea, Johnson acknowledged that a search warrant was executed at his residence in Epping, New Hampshire where synthetic cannabinoids were being produced. Agents located a cement mixer that was used to manufacture the products, approximately 48 empty 5-gallon drums of acetone, empty chemical containers with AB-FUBINACA residue, three garbage bags containing approximately six kilograms of bulk synthetic cannabinoids, thousands of empty synthetic cannabinoid packages, and approximately 27 kilograms of packaged synthetic cannabinoids.
Synthetic cannabinoids are green leafy materials that have been sprayed with chemicals. These (commonly referred to as “spice” or “K2”) are often marketed as incense or potpourri. As in this
case, the packaging materials often contain attractive logos that are designed to appeal to young people. Although the products are often identified as “not for human consumption,” the products are smoked in order to obtain a high. The chemicals that are sprayed on the products to produce the high are often illegal controlled substances or analogues of illegal controlled substances. The ingestion of these types of illegal products has caused some users to experience a variety of medical side effects and has led to numerous hospitalizations.
A sentencing date has not been set. At sentencing, Johnson faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to 250,000, and three years of supervised release. The investigation is ongoing.
This case was supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF). The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental
federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad led the investigation in collaboration with the US Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations. The investigators also received the invaluable assistance of DEA-NH/HIDTA and DEA’s Air Wing, the New Hampshire and Massachusetts State Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, Portsmouth Police Department, Somersworth Police Department, Kingston Police Department, the Dover Police Department, and the York and Kittery, Maine Police Departments. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John J. Farley.