Consider this a public service announcement for smokers of K-2 and similar products. There's a widely available, all-natural product -- a miracle, really -- that delivers that synthetic marijuana-like high you crave without any unfortunate face-eating side effects. It's called weed, and it's about as easy to find as a case of Bud Light, except on Sundays, when it's easier.
Yet somehow a surprising number of people choose to smoke the synthetic stuff, enough of them that a moderately sophisticated, multi-state manufacturing and distribution chain is emerging.
Take the case of Samuel Madeley.
Denton police arrested him on May 30 after investigators allegedly discovered a small synthetic-pot manufacturing operation on his garage ping-pong table.
Madeley is a rung or two above the convenience store owners whom the DEA has recently cracked down on for selling the stuff. He described himself as a "broker" in an interview with federal agents, renting office space in Irving as a base from which he searched out suppliers of synthetic-cannabis chemicals and connected them with manufactuers, "who needed the synthetic cannabis chemicals to spray on the smokable plant material," according to the feds. His cut was $500 to $1,000 per kilogram.
Madeley led investigators to a Rosenberg, Texas-based company called TKO Unlimited. A Chinese supplier of sprayable chemicals had put Madeley in touch with Trenton Kaminski, the company's founder, several years before. Over the next several years, Madeley earned around $32,000 in commissions from the company.
The DEA executed a search warrant on TKO Unlimited in August 2012. Shortly after, Kaminski fled to Belize, according to the feds.
Around the same time, Madeley was connected with another customer, B&B Distributing in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Between May 2012 and June 2013, Bays wired several large deposits to Madeley's Bank of America accounts. In exchange, Madeley had the chemicals shipped by FedEx or UPS.
Police eventually raided Bays' home and manufacturing facility and seized a FedEx package shipped by his company, revealing evidence they say shows he was producing and selling synthetic cannabis under brand names like "B2 Da Bomb," "Street Legal," and "Roses Air Freshener."
Madeley, Bays, and another man named David Muise were hit with a federal indictment Tuesday for conspiring to distribute a banned "controlled substance analogue." Each faces a possible $2 million fine and 30 years in prison.
All of this means that the U.S. synthetic marijuana supply is a bit smaller, which is undoubtedly for the best. Think about it. Is it really wise to ingest Chinese-made chemicals that have been sprayed on by some dude on his garage ping pond table?