PORTLAND, Ore. — Prosecutors have accused a Vancouver, Wash., man and three other people with leading an international conspiracy to manufacture and sell designer drugs online and to stores that earned them $5 million between 2009 and earlier this month.
Ryan Scott, 31, had shipments of merchandise from Peru labeled as incense, “burial powder” or insecticide, all of which government agents seized in February 2011 and said were actually a synthetic drug that imitates the high of cocaine and Ecstasy, the Oregonian reports (http://is.gd/Ynf0sH ).
Less than two weeks after his shipment from Peru was seized, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued an emergency order to control five chemicals, all of them synthetic cannabinoids used to make what government agents call “fake pot.”
Scott and a Bulgarian national living in Hawaii face charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance. A mother-daughter pair from Las Vegas was charged with money laundering.
Scott was arrested on Tuesday and brought to court Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty. Scott’s attorney says he pays his taxes and what he’s doing is legal.
Scott’s previous shipments came to Oregon, Alaska and California, and made their way to 3,000-square-foot warehouse in Vancouver from which he operated KTW Enterprises Ltd.
Prosecutors say Scott also marketed a synthetic marijuana substance under the label “K2,” — which drew a civil lawsuit from a Kansas company that also produces an incense called K2. The two companies reached a settlement.
“Individuals who manufacture and distribute synthetic drugs in an attempt to get around the law are not fooling law enforcement,” said Kenneth J. Hines, the IRS Special Agent in Charge of the Pacific Northwest.
Manufacturers create synthetic marijuana by coating plant materials with chemicals that mimic the active ingredient in marijuana. The products promise users a legal high. Public health officials warn that the products can cause nausea, seizures, hallucinations, racing hearts, tremors and non-responsiveness. Federal agents also seized hundreds of pounds of dried plant materials, packaging equipment, and chemicals from the Vancouver warehouse.
Scott was released from jail after his plea but ordered to relinquish his passport, not travel overseas and undergo drug testing.