MOTHER AND SON PLEAD GUILTY
A Festus Missouri area mother and son pled guilty this morning to charges of conspiracy to distribute for human consumption 1,4- butanediol, an analogue of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (commonly known as GHB), William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA St. Louis Division and United States Attorney Ray Gruender announced today.
This case was part of a nationwide Drug Enforcement Administration operation known as "Operation Webslinger" coordinated by their joint law enforcement program called the Special Operations Division, which is comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and IRS, as well as attorneys from the Department of Justice's Criminal Division. Locally, the Drug Enforcement Administration was assisted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the St. Louis County and Festus, Missouri Police Departments. Assistant United States Attorneys James Delworth and John Davis are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to SAC William J. Renton, Jr., "Today's guilty plea by Cassandra and Joshua Harvey represents a major victory in the fight against club and predatory drugs." These defendants were charged in Operation WEBSLINGER, the Drug Enforcement Administration's most significant national investigation to date targeting a prolific trafficking organization distributing GHB, GBL and 1-4 BD, all of which constitute date rape drugs.
"This operation developed evidence sufficient to convict these traffickers with using the internet and the anonymity of cyberspace to distribute these dangerous drugs," Renton added. Through this investigation, DEA was able to track these predatory drugs and their analogues from legitimate chemical wholesalers to the Harvey's, who then packaged the drugs for both wholesale and retail distribution.
"This is the first internet drug distribution case prosecuted in the Eastern District of Missouri," said U.S. Attorney Ray Gruender.
Through this international investigation charges were brought against 175 individuals in North America and Europe and to slow the spread of these highly dangerous controlled substances.
CASSANDRA HARVEY, 54, of the 100 block of North 2nd Street, Festus, Missouri and JOSHUA HARVEY, 24, of the 1300 block of Scenic Drive, Herculaneum, Missouri, each pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to distribute 1,4 butanediol, an analog of (GHB). Additionally, both defendants pled guilty to a forfeiture count, wherein they will be required to forfeit various items that were acquired from this drug conspiracy. They appeared this morning before United States District Judge Jean C. Hamilton.
Each defendant now faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000,000. Items subject to forfeiture include over $319,000 in U.S. currency, three vehicles, jewelry, firearms, coins and real estate.
Sentencing for both defendants has been set for January 16, 2003. They remain in custody pending sentencing.
More than 2000 gallons of 1,4- butanediol and $300,000 cash were seized at the time of their arrest.
According to the facts filed with the court, Cassandra Harvey and her son, Joshua Harvey, operated a business over the internet by maintaining a web site that offered 1,4 butanediol for sale under the guise of a cleaning product utilizing the name "Miracle Organic Solvent." However, the defendants admitted that they knew the product they sold was being used for human consumption. Cassandra Harvey had the principle role in the business and Joshua was an active, knowing employee.
Their internet site advertised 1,4 butanediol as a cleaning product with various uses including spot remover, paint stripper and as a cleaning agent for computer circuit boards, grating and brickwork and tile. Cassandra Harvey received the 1,4 butanediol in 55 gallon drums from chemical manufacturers by falsifying her intended end use of the product. The Harveys pled guilty to distribution of more than 10,000,000 dosage units. This amount of 1,4 butanediol represents the approximately 200 gallons seized from storage facilities utilized by Cassandra Harvey and the total internet sales of 1,4 butanediol.
1,4- butanediol is a chemical intermediate generally classified as a captive use product; that is, it is not intended for residential consumers, but is used in the manufacture of other products. 1,4- butanediol is an analogue of GHB. The chemical structure of 1,4 butanediol is substantially similar to GHB, and when ingested into the human body, converts into GHB. GHB popularly known as "G" is a Schedule I depressant. It has a euphoric effect similar to alcohol intoxication. It can also have an amnesiac affect, and for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as a date rape drug. Mismanagement of the dosage units of GHB is very dangerous and can lead to tragic results. As of November 2000 DEA had documented 71 deaths have been attributed to GHB nationwide.
For additional information please contact DEA St. Louis Division Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jack Riley at 314-538-4600.