New Hampshire businessman pleads guilty to spice distribution & fatal overdose
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Seabrook, New Hampshire man pleaded guilty today to his role in a nationwide conspiracy to distribute synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as “spice” or “K2.”
According to court documents, William Walsh, 56, operated two shops in Seabrook—“Up N Smoke” and “The Smoking Monkey”—from which he sold retail quantities of spice, along with smoking paraphernalia such as rolling papers and glass pipes. Walsh ordered the spice that he sold in his stores from a California-based wholesale spice manufacturing and distribution operation.
At times during the conspiracy, Walsh ordered thousands of dollars of spice per week from his California-based co-conspirators, whose illicit business held itself out as Aroma Superstore. The spice was sold in packages bearing the label “Not For Human Consumption” in an attempt to avoid law enforcement scrutiny, and Walsh instructed his employees not to discuss the fact that the spice was smoked or otherwise used as a drug. The products were, in reality, intended to be consumed and induce a “high” similar to other controlled substances. The spice connected to this conspiracy caused one of the defendant’s customers, referred to in court documents as J.S., to fatally overdose.
In November 2019, law enforcement searched Up N Smoke, The Smoking Monkey, and Walsh’s residence. In the course of executing the search warrants, agents seized approximately 12 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoids packaged for distribution, and a total of more than $676,000 in cash.
Walsh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute Schedule I controlled substances, and he is scheduled to appear at a status hearing on March 31, 2021. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Washington Division; Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; Robert P. Mosier, Fauquier County Sheriff; and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine E. Rumbaugh and Bibeane Metsch are prosecuting the case.