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Mr. Nice Guy warehouse explosion and legal issues (Major update with great info)

By Basoodler, Dec 14, 2012 | Updated: Dec 17, 2012 | | |
  1. Basoodler

    WEST PALM BEACH —A Georgia Avenue warehouse that exploded May 21 was home to a “very dangerous, large-scale” distribution center for synthetic marijuana run by three Palm Beach County men, federal authorities said Thursday.

    Dylan Harrison, John Shealy and Michael Bryant also allegedly manufactured the drug — known by names such as “Mr. Nice Guy” — at warehouses in suburban West Palm Beach, according to a federal complaint. Agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents Wednesday raided ones on North Military Trail and North Florida Mango Road.

    The three men were arrested on charges including unlawful distribution of controlled substances. If convicted, they face up to a maximum of 30 years in prison.

    The arrests were among 90 made nationwide in the investigation, dubbed “Operation Log Jam”. The investigation — the first to target synthetic drugs — was prompted by local authorities country-wide asking for help in battling synthetic marijuana. The product is easily accessible because quirks in the law allow it to be sold at gas stations, convenience stores and smoke shops as long as it doesn’t contained banned materials.

    In all, local and state law-enforcement agencies nationwide aided the DEA, the Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in seizing more than 4.8 million packets of synthetic drugs, $36 million in cash and $6 million in assets. More than 265 search warrants in 90 cities and in 30 states were executed.

    DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told reporters in Arlington, Va., on Thursday that he had a message for those who distribute and manufacture synthetic marijuana: “You are nothing more than a drug trafficker and we will bring you to justice.”

    Leonhart said use of the drug is a growing epidemic comparable to prescription pills, especially among young adults. In 2010, poison centers nationwide recorded about 3,200 calls related to the synthetic drugs and bath salts. In 2011, those calls spiked to more than 13,000. Sixty percent of them involved people age 25 and younger, a DEA spokeswoman said.

    The investigation into Harrison, 31 of West Palm Beach, Shealy, 39 of Royal Palm Beach, and Bryant, 29, of Delray Beach was jump-started when Joel Lester, a 52-year-old Boca Raton businessman, was arrested in January for distributing the drug as a product known as Mr. Nice Guy. After his arrest, Lester agreed to work with DEA agents in bringing down the men who sold him the synthetic product.

    Lester, who pleaded guilty in June to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance analog, bought the product from Kratom Labs, a company Harrison and Shealy own. With DEA agents watching, Lester met with Bryant in March to buy Mr. Nice Guy. Bryant delivered it in three garbage bags filled with about 15,000 packages. In exchange, Lester provided him with a check for $71,250 — or at about $4.75 per package.

    Leonhart mentioned the Georgia Avenue warehouse explosion Thursday as one of the more dangerous operations.

    “It burnt the place to the ground,” she said. “Fortunately our agents and task force officers and state and local folks were able to arrest those manufacturers yesterday.”



  1. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Royal Palm Beach man accused in synthetic pot case to be released on $1 million bond

    A federal magistrate Thursday ordered that a Royal Palm Beach man accused of producing and distributing synthetic marijuana be released on $1 million bond.

    After almost four hours of intense debate over whether a product called “Mr. Nice Guy” contained an illegal substance, U.S. Magistrate William Matthewman ordered that John Shealy, 39, be released from federal custody after his stepfather Alex Molinaroli and mother Patsy Molinaroli meet the demands of a $500,000 10-percent bond and a $500,000 corporate surety bond.

    Shealy, Dylan Harrison and Michael Bryant are accused of manufacturing the drug at warehouses in suburban West Palm Beach and also one on Georgia Avenue that exploded May 21.

    As part of Shealy’s release, the massage therapist will have to obey the following restrictions: provide the court with a DNA sample if needed; maintain employment or seek employment unrelated to the synthetic drug trade; remain at home from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Among other conditions, Shealy must be monitored electronically and must surrender his passport.

    “This is a troubling case,” Matthewman said. “This is a prosecution that you don’t see everyday.”
    Before deciding on bond, Matthewman had to find probable cause in the case.

    Matthewman said that he did find probable cause that Shealy, through Kratom Labs, was producing the synthetic drug with a controlled substance analogue, something which mimics a drug’s composition and is illegal. Matthewman also found that Shealy posed a danger to people because of the Georgia Avenue warehouse explosion and because the product he was producing was available for young children to buy. Matthewman also found that Shealy misbranded the product because packages containing synthetic marijuana often say “not for human consumption” or “potpourri.”

    Shealy’s co-defendants Harrison and Bryant face the same charges.

    Harrison, who was described in court as Shealy’s partner, is being held in pre-trial detention because he has a past weapons offense arrest. Bryant, who was described in court Thursday as a “low level” employee of Shealy’s who was in charge of mixing the marshmallow leaf, acetone and analogue in the Georgia Avenue warehouse, was released after posting a $100,000 bond.

    In an attempt to convince Matthewman that Shealy should be held in pre-trial detention, federal prosecutor Stephanie Evans said that Shealy knew what he was doing was illegal in that he leased the warehouse under a fictitious name. She also argued that when the warehouse exploded, Shealy instructed Bryant to go to another warehouse and clear it out. She also argued that Shealy protected his home with surveillance cameras and armed himself with numerous guns and had ingredients of Mr. Nice Guy shipped from China to his massage therapy businesses. Evans said she had to go through several layers of business names connected to the warehouses and Kratom Labs to find Shealy’s name.

    Shealy’s attorney Marc Seitles argued that Shealy should have been given notice that the analogue he was using in Mr. Nice Guy was illegal. Seitles argued that Shealy tried to “comply with the law” and hired chemists to make sure that the substance, UR 144, which is banned in other states, was not illegal here.
    Evans, at times clearly frustrated, said that the UR 144 is illegal because federal statute makes any substance which mimics a controlled substance illegal.

    Seitles claimed that his client did not try to hide his business. He pointed out that Harrison filed a civil lawsuit against Mr. Nice Guy competitors for counterfeiting and trademark infringement, among other things. In the complaint and in the deposition of the case, Shealy stated that he produces Mr. Nice Guy.
    The lawsuit was later brought up while Evans tried to convince Matthewman to deny Shealy bond. She said that Shealy knew what he was doing was illegal and lied under oath when he said that he did not know where the product was created.

    Matthewman asked Evans why Shealy would then admit to owning the product in the lawsuit if he knew it was illegal?

    “Arrogance. Arrogance,” Evans said in a stern voice.

    By Alexandra Seltzer
    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

  2. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Palm Beach County man charged with manufacturing, distributing synthetic drugs faces judge

    A federal magistrate judge Tuesday morning ordered that a 31-year-old man accused of manufacturing and distributing synthetic drugs with two others under the name Kratom Labs be held in pre-trial detention.
    Dylan Harrison, appearing jittery at times while biting his lip or holding his head in his hands awaiting the judge, was represented by attorneys Neil Schuster and Ian Goldstein.

    The attorneys said they are trying to work with federal prosecutor U.S. Attorney Roger Stefin in agreeing on a bond.

    Stefin said Harrison is both a “flight risk” and a “danger.”

    Harrison was arrested last Wednesday along with John Shealy, 39, and Michael Bryant, 29, on federal charges of distributing a controlled substance analogue — a substance that is structurally similar but slightly different in its composition from the actual drug — and with intent to defraud and mislead consumers by introducing the product to retail store shelves, among other charges.

    According to a federal complaint, the three were manufacturing synthetic drugs under the name Mr. Nice Guy and were distributing it throughout the country.

    Shealy is expected to have his detention and counsel hearings Thursday.

    Bryant was released from custody last week after posting $100,000 bond, according to court records.

  3. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Posted: 12:42 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, 2012

    Delray Beach man admits to manufacturing synthetic marijuana

    One of three men charged with manufacturing Mr. Nice Guy, a synthetic marijuana drug, changed his plea to guilty this morning after pleading not guilty earlier this year.

    Michael Bryant, 30, of Delray Beach, stood by his attorney this morning as U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp questioned him about his plea, which makes Bryant ineligible for a jury trial and takes away many of his appellate rights.

    Bryant, who along with Dylan Harrison, of Lantana, and John Shealy, of Royal Palm Beach, was charged in federal court with distributing a controlled substance analogue this summer. Bryant could face up to 20 years in prison, at least three years probation and fines of up to $1 million, Ryskamp said.

    In July, Bryant was released from custody after posting $100,000 bond. He remains out on bond. A judge ordered him to surrender his passport and participate in drug treatment.
    Bryant is set to be sentenced Feb. 15.

  4. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Some neighbors wary of three arrested on charges of making, distributing synthetic marijuana

    WEST PALM BEACH — The warehouse on Georgia Avenue blended in with its neighborhood until you looked close. Its windows were tinted to prevent anyone from peeking inside. Wary neighbors occasionally glanced at those who rented the property, only to be met with stares that made them turn away. Then all the proof they needed drowned out their whispers.


    The warehouse was on fire. Thick clouds of smoke clogged the air. Flames were visible from blocks away. Scores of packets of “Mr. Nice Guy” — a widely available brand of synthetic marijuana — littered the ground.

    Months later, federal and local agents arrested three men they say were behind the May 21 explosion and operations at two suburban West Palm Beach warehouses, where synthetic marijuana was allegedly made and distributed nationwide.

    Dylan Harrison, 31, John Shealy, 39, and Michael Bryant, 29, have now been charged in federal court with distributing a controlled substance analogue — a substance that is structurally similar but slightly different in its composition from the actual drug — and with intent to defraud and mislead consumers by introducing the product to retail store shelves, among other charges.

    As of Friday, Bryant was released from custody after posting $100,000 bond, according to court records. A judge ordered him to surrender his passport and participate in drug treatment, among other special conditions of his release. It was unclear Friday whether Shealy and Harrison were still in custody.
    Through the company Kratom Labs, which Harrison and Shealy own, the three men would produce the synthetic marijuana with banned chemicals imported from China and offer to ship it to all 50 states.

    The chemicals were mixed with gallons of acetone and marshmallow leaf in an industrialcement mixer. The process produced strong odors and toxic fumes, forcing Kratom Labs employees to wear protective gear to avoid becoming ill, according to the criminal complaint filed by Jupiter police detective Eric Gilbert, who is assigned to a federal Drug Enforcement Agency task force.

    Employees at Stonepuck, a contractor also based in the Georgia Avenue warehouse, often felt ill from the fumes, too. Its owner, Dale Puckett, said they were so strong one day in mid-April that he could barely breathe outside. He confronted his business neighbors.

    “Someone lights a match, you’re going to be in the Intracoastal,” Puckett recalled telling the three men. “You’re going to kill everybody here.”

    The men were apologetic, Puckett said. They agreed to conduct their mixing after employees at Puckett’s custom stone-work business left at 4:30 p.m. They even brought them beer to apologize. But Puckett said he never really knew his neighbors. In fact, they rented the warehouse under a fictitious name: John Smith.

    Sometimes, men would show up at the warehouse on motorcycles and would not remove their helmets until they were indoors, Puckett said. The garage door was usually closed. When it was open at all, only a small amount of light could slither in.

    Then the building blew up, confirming Puckett’s suspicions and substantially damaging both his tools and his business. He has since sued the trio for damages in excess of a $1 million.

    Puckett said last week his business is slowly recovering, but he hasn’t been allowed to return to the Georgia Avenue location. He never saw the men visit the warehouse after it exploded. It was obvious they weren’t coming back.

    But the men had other warehouses in suburban West Palm Beach, one in the 1300 block of North Florida Mango Road and one at 2350 N. Military Trail. And at the Military Trail site, Jeremy Baker said his glances at workers in the warehouse also were met with stares.

    “They always kind of gave me the eye,” said Baker, a mechanic whose employer’s garage is on the same property. “They were just really quiet and discreet.”

    Baker, 28, said he never really saw what was going inside the warehouse because the glass door was covered with black plastic bagsHe said he heard stories from other businesses about increased traffic at the building at night.

    Suspicions also arose at a Lake Worth business also linked to Harrison. Neighboring business owners and employees didn’t care much for the clientele of Kavasutra, a Lake Avenue bar that serves tea made from the kava root that is believed to act like a sedative. However, some liked Harrison, the face of the venue.
    Steward Rooney, owner of John A. Rooney Imports on Lake Avenue, said he and Harrison opened their businesses about four years ago and commiserated about their struggles.

    “He did a hell of a lot for this street as far as getting music going and putting decorations up for Christmas,” Rooney said.

    Rooney said he didn’t know Harrison was producing illegal drugs. “I still think he’s a nice guy,” Rooney said.
    An employee of the Kilwins ice cream shop nearby agreed, saying Harrison, a father of two, is a “sweetheart.”

    “But what he was doing is totally unacceptable,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
    But Harrison had his opponents. Jack Cesare, a former co-owner of a hair salon near Kavasutra, notified local and federal authorities in 2010 about Harrison’s activities at Kavasutra.

    Cesare and Harrison were friendly until December 2010, when Harrison pulled a packet of Mr. Nice Guy out of his pocket and offered it to Cesare.

    “It made me deathly sick,” he said. “I said, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ ”

    After the incident, Cesare emailed Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and city commissioners Suzanne Mulvehill and Andy Amoroso, among others, urging them to look into Harrison and Kavasutra. In an October message to Amoroso, Cesare wrote: “You as commissioner should be looking to get rid of this from this area, it attracks (sic) trashy people who are in rehab, im (sic) sure you see the people who hang out their.”

    Cesare said Harrison grew angry and threatened him upon learning he had reached out to local authorities. Harrison went as far as suing Cesare for slander, a case that is still pending in Palm Beach County Court.
    Cesare is pleased law-enforcement agencies have caught on to the alleged activities of Harrison Shealy and Bryant — even if it took a neighborhood-rattling act to make it happen.

    “When the warehouse blew up,” Cesare said, his voice rising with excitement, “we knew that was a good thing that happened.”

    Staff researcher Niels Heimeriks contributed to this story.

  5. Rob Cypher
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Ha ha, I remember Mr. Nice Guy! I knew people who first tried it when it was around my area in 2009 and the initial batch of anti-JWH emergency scheduling laws had yet to be enacted. It was actually pretty good from what I was told; I think it consisted of one (if not two) of the five originally 'outlawed' cannabinoids [specifically, probably JWH-018, JWH-073, and/or JWH-200], although I am not certain of that; just guessing based on how the product became a lot less popular when it switched to other "post-DEA ban legal-only" cannabinoids (it was coming from the same vendor, so there wasn't supposedly an issue of imitators slapping the logo on an inferior reproduction or something shady like that).

    Their blends were the only blends that my friends enjoyed during their 'herbal incense' phase back in 2009-2010; everything else was so scattershot in terms of quality and effect that it discouraged further investigation of that sort.

  6. Alfa
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    I wonder what exactly caused the explosion and what the production method was. I would expect that they were using unsafe methods for applying highly volatile solvents.
  7. snarkymalarky
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    It's a shame that the name Kratom is part of their company name. At least none of these stories mentioned Kratom as a drug.
  8. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Mr nice guy was a very popular brand nationwide.. its been mentioned in threads a good many times over the last few years. I'll look around and see what kratom products

    Alfa I guess they used a cement mixer in the warehouse that blew up and lots and lots of acetone. One of the articles said the smell of acetone was so bad that the neighbor factory bitched enough to get them to mix it after work hours.

    They only had a trademark for Mr. Nice guy. But they did have Mr nice guy kratom and had Kratom available at their kava bar.. it was registered in 2010. Its been updated and is still active.

    I wonder how much money they made in 3 years with an international brand?
  9. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Man faces up to 20 years for distributing "Mr. Nice Guy" fake pot

    One of three West Palm Beach men busted in what federal prosecutors have described as a major synthetic marijuana operation pleaded guilty Friday to a drug charge that could carry up to 20 years in prison.

    Michael Bryant, 30, worked for Kratom Lab, the manufacturer of "Mr. Nice Guy," a brand of synthetic marijuana sold out of convenience stores, gas stations and tobacco shops, according to authorities. Bryant as well as the co-owners of Kratom Lab — John Shealey and Dylan Harrison — were arrested in July in "Operation Log Jam," the first nationwide crackdown on the synthetic marijuana industry.

    Bryant admitted Friday he conducted a parking lot deal with Boca Raton businessman Joel Lester, handing off 15,000 packets of "Mr. Nice Guy" for a check for $71,250. The exchange was monitored by DEA agents, who had raided Lester's business, Nature and Health, just hours before the March 30 meeting and got him to cooperate.

    A Drug Enforcement Administration lab tested samples of the packets delivered by Bryant and found they contained chemicals analogous to a synthetic drug banned in March 2011, court records show.

    Bryant pleaded guilty Friday to the rare charge of "knowingly and intentionally distributing a Schedule I controlled substance analogue." He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 15 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp.

    Kratom Lab co-owners Shealey and Harrison each face a single count of conspiracy to commit fraud, a charge that can carry up to five years in prison. Attorneys for Shealey and Harrison have filed court documents stating that the cases present "a number of novel issues and the parties are...discussing their legal implications."

    The popularity of synthetic marijuana—sometimes called "K2" and "Spice"— exploded in 2010 with the designer drugs linked to more 11,000 emergency room visits nationwide that year alone. While the drugs can offer the "high" of marijuana, they also have had an array of side effects including rapid heart rate, nausea, hallucinations, seizures, psychotic episodes and renal failure.
    Federal and state authorities have spent much of the past two years trying to keep up with the ever-evolving chemical compounds used to make the drugs. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi just filed an emergency rule earlier this week making it a felony to sell or manufacture an additional 22 chemical compounds.

    Federal prosecutors have said Kratom Lab used to be one of the largest manufacturers of synthetic marijuana in the country. The company even patented its "Mr. Nice Guy" logo — a smiley face with its eyes Xed out.

    Court records indicate federal prosecutors believe millions of dollars flowed through Kratom Lab. Federal authorities are seeking a $2.2 million judgment against Shealey as well as having him forfeit nearly $700,000 in various bank accounts.
    In addition, authorities want Harrison, 31, to forfeit $166,000 and the $850,000 Lantana house he bought with cash earlier this year.

    Kratom Lab would buy chemicals from China and then mix them in industrial-sized cement mixers with marshmallow leaves and acetone. FBI agents described the process as "not only crude, but highly volatile and dangerous."

    December 14, 2012|By Jon Burstein, Sun Sentinel
  10. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    The Fake-Pot Industry Is Coming Down From a Three-Year High

    [imgl=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=30367&stc=1&d=1355761046[/imgl]For months, Lila Steinhoff wondered what was going on in the middle bay of the peach-colored warehouse across from her home. When the wind came out of the north or northeast, the pungent stench of nail-polish remover wafted from the small commercial site onto her quiet side street in West Palm Beach. And unlike the other 9-to-5 businesses in the warehouse, the middle bay kept its employees working erratic hours.

    "People came and went in the night. It had the strange odor," says Steinhoff, a plump 64-year-old with short silver hair and bifocal glasses. "You live and let live in this neighborhood. But it was a concern enough."

    At a quarter past 5 p.m. Monday, May 21, a deafening explosion roared over Steinhoff's head. The walls of her house expanded and contracted, like they had taken a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief that they were still standing.

    Thirty yards away, a fury of fire spewed from the warehouse. The metal garage door of the middle bay blasted off its hinges and soared 75 feet before crashing down on a neighbor's roof. Dense waves of noxious black smoke poured into the late-afternoon sky.

    Steinhoff grabbed her phone, called the fire department, and turned on her camera to document the mayhem. Mixed in with the firefighters and police officers was a small unit from the Drug Enforcement Administration working a first-of-its-kind case.

    Inside the poorly ventilated space were at least five gallons of acetone — its fumes had fueled the blast — seven industrial cement mixers, and thousands of packets of Mr. Nice Guy herbal incense.

    Over the past three years, manufacturers and retailers of so-called herbal incenses have popped up in all 50 states. It quickly became a multibillion-dollar industry built on products that had names like Crazy Eyes, Cowboy Kush, and Skull Killa. Although manufacturers were usually careful to stamp warning labels on the products to avoid liability, users understood that smoking these substances would result in a high because the stuff was soaked with synthetic cannabinoids — man-made chemicals meant to mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

    Until two months ago, many of these herbal incenses remained legal because state and federal lawmakers couldn't keep up with the onslaught of new chemicals being churned out by overseas labs and imported by herbal-incense manufacturers. Whenever the government banned one synthetic cannabinoid, chemists simply tweaked their formulations to concoct new, legal replacements that still got people stoned.

    Within this dubious industry, Palm Beach's Mr. Nice Guy earned a reputation as one of the best manufacturers. In just a few hours, it could conjure 15,000 ounces of unnatural intoxication, individually bagged and ready to go. The company offered to ship bulk orders across the country and even trademarked its logo, a yellow smiley face with X's for eyes. Stamped on each package was the ubiquitous but disingenuous boilerplate: "Not for Human Consumption."

    At the time of the explosion, the DEA had been collecting Mr. Nice Guy packets from around the nation while trying to piece together a case. It was unclear how the smoldering warehouse at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Wilmot Street was going to affect the ongoing investigation. But with enormous profits at stake and customers across the country clamoring for a legal high, it was a safe bet that whoever was at the controls of Mr. Nice Guy had no plans of slowing down.

    Dylan Harrison and John Shealy made a unique entrepreneurial duo.

    Harrison, a barrel-chested 31-year-old with a snide grin, co-owned Kavasutra. The Lake Worth hangout specialized in drinks made from the root of a kava plant, which is purported to have a relaxing effect.

    Shealy, short and stocky, with lots of tattoos and a trim haircut, grew up in South Carolina. His biological father blew town when he was a kid. From age 10, Shealy was raised by his stepfather, a well-off man who's now a vice president at Johnson Controls, a $22 billion corporation that makes batteries and car parts and employs 140,000 people across six continents. At age 19, Shealy moved to Florida to enter alcohol rehab and hasn't had a drink in the past decade, according to court documents. Now 39, Shealy has owned a few businesses himself, including Serenity Spa and Palm Beach Massage, described by one federal prosecutor as "not therapeutic massage businesses."

    In December 2010, Shealy and Harrison established Kratom Labs, the front company for Mr. Nice Guy. The two pushed into the herbal-incense industry at the perfect time. Overhead was low, demand was high, the market hadn't been entirely saturated, and there were few if any laws regulating herbal incense.
    To set themselves apart and appear professional, Shealy and Harrison took to clever branding: the smiley-face logo on every foil package, a name made famous by the stoner classic Half Baked, and even a marketing poster that read, "The DEA Wants You to Buy Mr. Nice Guy."

    Creating a batch of the incense wasn't hard. The raw materials are relatively cheap and easy to find.
    There are three necessary ingredients: dry plant leaves (usually damiana leaf or marshmallow leaf), acetone (the active ingredient in nail-polish remover), and synthetic cannabinoids (white granular chemicals with alphanumeric names like JWH-018, AM-2201, and HU-210).

    These chemicals were invented during the '80s and '90s in the labs of legitimate scientists at universities and pharmaceutical companies who had been looking for ways to harness the therapeutic capacity of THC without any of the stoned side effects. After their research hit the pages of scientific journals and seeped onto the internet, rogue chemists with profit motives took it in a different direction.

    Nowadays, industrial chemical plants in China and India produce enormous batches of synthetic cannabinoids. They're then sold through websites like Alchemy Incense as "research chemicals" or fertilizer — with a disclaimer that they aren't meant for human consumption.

    [imgr=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=30368&stc=1&d=1355761307[/imgr]Transforming the ingredients into a finished herbal-incense product doesn't require a chemistry degree: Manufacturers mix the powdery cannabinoids with acetone, spray the resulting liquid on the plant matter, and wait a few minutes for everything to dry; then the incense is ready to be packaged, shipped, and sold.

    It's a wildly lucrative venture. A kilo of cannabinoids typically costs $3,000 to $5,000, though lower prices can be had through bulk purchases and bargain hunting. One kilo can yield roughly an 8,000-gram batch of potent herbal incense. Each gram of the finished product has a retail value of about $10, so a $4,000 investment could generate $80,000 in gross revenue.

    Shealy and Harrison scaled up the manufacturing process by renting warehouses to serve as factories and whipping up giant batches of herbal incense in cement mixers. They hired part-time employees to bag up the product. Eventually the pernicious acetone fumes were too much, and the workers started wearing ventilation masks. When a batch was done, some of the part-timers played test dummy and sampled the goods. After doing so, "they became catatonic... [and] could not respond to stimuli," according to court documents.

    At full throttle, Shealy and Harrison churned out more than 100 kilograms of Mr. Nice Guy herbal incense a week, or 220 pounds of the stuff.

    To move their product out of Palm Beach and across the country, they worked with a small network of distributors. These middlemen would buy thousands of packets of Mr. Nice Guy at a time and resell them to gas stations, head shops, and convenience stores.

    Even though herbal incense wasn't illegal, Shealy and Harrison didn't want to flaunt the fact that they were importing massive amounts of gray-market chemicals from China. Shealy had kilos of cannabinoids shipped to his massage parlors; Harrison had them shipped to his mom's house, according to court documents. Shealy used fake names like Ben Wu and John Smith on leases and P.O. boxes. The paper trail ran through six levels of shell companies.

    As business grew, the men took aggressive steps to protect their brand. They filed a federal trademark suit against a company they claimed infringed on the Mr. Nice Guy logo. Other tactics were blunter: At one counterculture trade show in Las Vegas, Harrison and Shealy got wind that someone was selling counterfeit Mr. Nice Guy. In response, they trashed the vendor's booth, a federal prosecutor said in court. On another occasion, they allegedly threatened a local distributor to hand over his customer list so they could cut out the middleman. When the distributor refused, they reportedly broke into his car and stole an iPad that contained the list.

    Money poured in from their synthetic empire. Harrison purchased an $850,000 house with cash, according to court documents. He stashed $700,000 at a friend's house and $100,000 at his mom's place.

    Meanwhile, Shealy dropped $140,000 on two classic cars and bragged about a storage container somewhere along I-95 stuffed with cash. Surveillance cameras were wired around his modest Palm Beach home, where he stockpiled a small arsenal that included a military-grade sniper rifle, an AK-47, a revolver, and three semiautomatic pistols. Shealy had developed a fondness for anabolic steroids and set up what federal prosecutors describe as a "steroid making lab" on his kitchen counter.

    Demand for herbal-incense products soared in 2010 and 2011. People could walk into a gas station, spend 20 bucks, and get wrecked on "fake pot" without running afoul of the law for failing drug tests.

    Packets of Mr. Nice Guy trickled across the country. It wasn't long before users came to learn that smoking a mix of acetone and Chinese chemicals might not be such a good idea.


    A bong hit of herbal incense might result in a euphoric high that resembles the effects of marijuana. Or it might lead to an experience far worse.

    Anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly suggests that smoking it can lead to weird and heinous decisions. One 23-year-old guy from Bradenton, Florida, smoked the brand K2, shot a gun in his apartment, and was then arrested while running around naked in the parking lot. Matt Evans, a 21-year-old from Dunmore, Pennsylvania, said he smoked Spice before shaking his girlfriend's 2-month-old son to death. He was sentenced to 40 years.

    One of the most widely discussed cases of a synthetic high backfiring happened in Illinois after 19-year-old Max Dobner smoked a bag of iAroma, which he purchased at a cigar shop in a mall.

    After a few minutes of stoned, heart-pounding anguish, Dobner called his brother and told him he "smoked that legal stuff" and was freaking out. The older brother advised him to take a shower, eat something, and lie down. Instead, Dobner got into his Chrysler Cirrus and drove 80 to 100 mph through crowded streets. He careened into the small retaining wall of a front-yard garden. His car jumped ten feet into the air and smacked a tree. The engine shot out as the twisted remains of the vehicle smashed through the house. Dobner was dead. There were no skid marks, no sign that he even tried to slow down before the carnage ensued.

    A synthetic cannabinoid like JWH-210 — the chemical used in the incense Dobner smoked — is a full agonist of cannabinoid receptors in the brain, known as CB1, meaning it has an affinity for binding to these receptors and activating them. THC, the active substance in natural pot, is only a partial agonist of these receptors. Synthetic cannabinoids "therefore have a greater potential for overdose and severe toxic effect," according to an article published this past April in the Cleveland Clinic Medical Journal.

    Empirical evidence of these ill effects is hard to come by, but in 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers recorded 2,906 calls related to synthetic marijuana. In 2011, the number of calls spiked to 6,959. The most recent statistics available show that through June of this year, 3,273 such calls were logged.

    Also alarming but barely studied is the potential for synthetic cannabinoids to trigger psychotic episodes. "It is possible that psychotic symptoms may be more prominent with synthetic cannabinoids than with natural marijuana because not only are synthetic cannabinoids more potent and work as full agonists, but, unlike marijuana, they do not contain cannabidiol, which is thought to have antipsychotic efficacy," according to the Cleveland Clinic Medical Journal article.

    Then there's always the chance that bags of white powdery chemicals from China used to make the incense might be mislabeled and misrepresented by the sellers.

    Kevin Shanks, a forensic toxicologist with Indiana-based AIT Laboratories, tested one herbal-incense sample and found phenazepam, a powerful sedative that originated in Russia but is illegal in the U.S. It is sometimes used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy.

    "The name of the product was Zombie Matter," Shanks tells New Times. "It really does make sense from a marketing standpoint. They're marketing it as something that would zombie-fy somebody, and they put in a very hypnotic drug that would put you into a very sedated, zombie-like state."

    Phenazepam has a long half-life, Shanks explains, meaning that it does not clear from the human body quickly. A few straight days of smoking phenazepam-laced Zombie Matter could be lethal.

    Shanks also remembers a batch of Funky Monkey that contained the numbing agent lidocaine and a sample of Kick Ass brand incense contaminated with MPPP, a potent stimulant that's more likely to be used in bath salts — synthetic cocaine-like products that are often sold alongside synthetic pot but are chemically and pharmacologically different.

    Once the horror stories began to make the news, politicians were quick to champion laws against herbal incense. In 2010, cities and states started banning various synthetic cannabinoids. But the patchwork approach was like a game of Whac-A-Mole: Anytime one synthetic cannabinoid was banned, three new ones popped up to take its place.

    "The way that these chemists can turn these things around in a week or two and have them at smoke shops is remarkable," Shanks says.


    Boca Raton-based attorneys Thomas Wright and Spencer Siegel are the Saul Goodmans of synthetic cannabinoids.

    Wright is the bombastic half of the duo. He looks like a Baldwin brother gone rogue: thick hair, broad shoulders, crystal-blue eyes, and a graying goatee topped off by a New York accent. He smokes Marlboro Blacks, talks at 100 mph, and can't help but go on a tirade when the opportunity presents itself. Always there to reel him in, though, is Siegel, his colleague of 11 years. Siegel, flanked by a black electric guitar and a pyramid-shaped Montecristo humidor, chuckles from behind his desk while Wright hovers and rants about life at the front lines of the new war on drugs.

    "A lot of people assume that I'm some kind of kooky drug advocate," Wright says. "I'm actually the opposite. I don't advocate drugs. I lost my brother to heroin; he was a heroin addict for many years, and it destroyed my family... This is not about advocating drugs or anything else. This has to do with laws and the way they're meant to be applied."

    After having spent three years in the judicial bowels of the biz, these attorneys can tell endless tales of fortune and enigma. One factory was turning out 4 million bags of incense a week, the lawyers say. Others purchased 100 kilos of cannabinoids at a time. Another had a dozen employees working three shifts a day, seven days a week — the lawyers characterize it as a taxpaying, by-the-books small business. Then there's the guy with no name who disappeared. And, of course, the warehouse that exploded.


    The downfall of Mr. Nice Guy began on New Year's Day of 2012 — in West Virginia. Local police there who were working with the DEA stormed a handful of convenience stores for allegedly violating the DEA's emergency orders. The feds weren't surprised to find packets of Mr. Nice Guy at these retail outlets, but they were intrigued by invoices showing the products were being purchased from a guy in Florida named Joel Lester.

    On January 23, three weeks after the West Virginia raids, Lester, the 53-year-old proprietor of a business called Nature & Health in Boca Raton, received a call from a storeowner who said he was interested in selling herbal-incense products. He'd heard that Lester was one of the biggest Mr. Nice Guy distributors and stocked enough at his store to sell 50 or 100 or 1,000 bags in a single transaction. Peppered with questions, Lester explained to the caller that people can smoke incense from a hookah pipe to get stoned.

    Three days after the phone call, Lester met the man face-to-face in West Palm Beach to close the sale. Lester told the naive storeowner to think of Mr. Nice Guy as legal pot that wouldn't show up on a drug test. He rambled about how people could smoke it and eat it and said he once got "really stoned" from chewing some herbal incense. Then he brought up Relaxinol, a flavor of Mr. Nice Guy that Lester boasted would give users hallucinations.

    Lester hadn't known it, but the supposed storeowner was actually an operative sent in by the DEA. The goal of the undercover operation wasn't just to buy herbal incense, as anyone could have walked in off the street and purchased it at the time. Rather, the goal was to catch Lester on the record explaining that people smoke incense to get high — indisputable evidence that he knowingly sold herbal incense for human consumption.

    The operative handed over $300 for 50 packets of five Mr. Nice Guy flavors, including strawberry, mango, and Relaxinol. He later turned them over to the DEA, which tested the products and determined they contained the synthetic cannabinoids AM-2201 and JWH-122 — compounds the agency contends were illegal at the time because they were analogs of JWH-018, one of the chemicals banned in March 2011.

    Two months after the undercover buy, the DEA, armed with federal search warrants, paid a visit to Lester's store. It was stocked with "thousands of packages of synthetic cannabinoid products," mostly of the Mr. Nice Guy brand, according to the criminal complaint.
    Lester was arrested but decided on the spot to cooperate with the feds. He jumped on the phone and called Harrison, one of the Mr. Nice Guy manufacturers, and arranged a large buy for later that day. At first, Harrison expressed trepidation — word had already spread that police had raided a shop in Boca. But Lester promised all was well.

    Mere hours after Lester got popped, a Mr. Nice Guy employee named Michael Bryant met him in a parking lot, completely unaware that a DEA surveillance team was lurking just out of sight. Bryant unloaded three large black trash bags that contained about 15,000 packages of Mr. Nice Guy product, according to court records. In exchange, Lester handed over a business check for $71,250. But the DEA sat tight and held off on arresting Bryant.

    Two months later, in May of 2012, Mr. Nice Guy's warehouse exploded, and again, the feds made no arrests. The DEA still had to exercise patience. It wasn't entirely clear whether the analog law and temporary ban on five cannabinoids would be enough to mount a federal case against Mr. Nice Guy. Though politicians in Congress had begun to understand the potential dangers of herbal incense and had even proposed a permanent federal ban, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky kept blocking the bill with libertarian objections. The DEA opted to wait until Congress could push through the legislation.

    On July 9, the agency finally got what it was waiting for when President Obama signed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Buried at the bottom of the legislation is a subsection known as the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, which permanently adds a host of synthetic cannabinoids, their analogs, and various chemical compositions to the Controlled Substance Act.

    With the legislation signed into law, an undercover buy completed, confidential informants in the wings, and a charred warehouse, the DEA thought it was set to take down the men behind Mr. Nice Guy.


    On July 26, two weeks after Obama signed the federal ban, the phones of Siegel Siegel & Wright exploded with calls.

    "Everyone was wondering what was going on," Wright recalls. "Word was spreading like a wildfire."

    Earlier that morning, dozens of well-armed federal agents, some wearing knit ski masks and sunglasses, scattered through a sprawling parking lot of a West Palm Beach industrial complex, located just ten minutes north of the warehouse that had exploded. The target: a single office at the back of the lot with black plastic garbage bags covering its glass front door — Mr. Nice Guy's new center of operations.

    The small army busted into the building and was greeted by the overwhelming stench of acetone and "literally tons" of Mr. Nice Guy product, as a deputy with the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office told TV cameras later that day. The feds finally had the men behind one of the "country's largest distributors" of herbal incense in custody.

    Dylan Harrison and John Shealy were arrested and charged with three crimes: unlawful distribution of controlled substance analogs, creating a substance with risk of harm to human life while manufacturing a controlled substance analog, and misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and mislead. Michael Bryant, who delivered the 15,000 packets, was also arrested.

    Mr. Nice Guy wasn't the only target that day, though. The DEA was in the midst of Operation Log Jam, a one-day tactical takedown of synthetic-drug manufacturers, distributors, and retailers across more than 30 states.

    "I was at home at the time and got a call from a client that Mr. Nice Guy had been raided," Wright says. "It was only an hour or so later that the phones started ringing off the hook from both existing and prospective clients nationwide."

    The numbers put out by the feds after the raid are staggering: more than 90 people arrested, nearly $40 million in cash seized, and 5 million packets of finished herbal incense confiscated. In Florida alone, the DEA hauled in 3,346 kilograms of raw synthetic cannabinoids.

    Wright sees the raid as an expensive attack on small businesses that were trying to operate legally.

    "On day two, we even got a couple of calls from clients who were essentially 'trapped' in their place of business. What I mean is they were in the process of packing up products to have them destroyed or to turn over to law enforcement," he says. "They realized from the news that the DEA was arresting people, and they wanted to dispose of products that were now being considered illegal. There was no opportunity for them to even turn things into law enforcement if they wanted to... The products may have been unpopular, but there was never any intent to break the law."

    Now, as the Mr. Nice Guy cases wind their way through court, some experts say Shealy and Harrison were not in fact breaking the law. In the months leading up to the raid, the men changed their cannabinoid formulation to two chemicals known as UR-144 and 5-fluoro-ur-144. The DEA contends that these chemicals are analogs of JWH-018 that were meant for human consumption and thus are illegal under the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012.

    Not everyone agrees, including Kevin Shanks, the expert toxicologist whose company has been contracted by law enforcement agencies over the years for herbal-incense examinations.

    "UR-144 is one of those compounds that is enough structurally different that it would be very, very difficult to prosecute somebody on an analog law," he contends. "If someone is trying to make the case that UR-144 was chemically similar or substantially similar to JWH-018 or AM-2201 or any of the banned compounds, I would think that would be a very difficult task.

    "Essentially on 144, they completely change out one subset of the molecule and completely replace it with another chemical group. This isn't a minor change... UR-144 is not going to give you the altered perception, euphoria, impairment of motor skills, or anything like that."

    Even if the charges related to controlled substances don't stick, Shealy and Harrison still have to explain why they rented warehouses under fake names and prove they reported every dollar made on their synthetic venture to the IRS. The men are also facing a civil suit from a stone-refinishing shop that occupied the space next to the warehouse bay that exploded. Damages from the blast are in excess of $1 million, according to court documents.

    Harrison's and Shealy's arraignments are scheduled for September 24. It's unclear how the men will plead.


    Still taped to the door of the raided warehouse is a bright-red piece of paper proclaiming, "WARNING. A clandestine laboratory for the manufacture of illegal drugs and/or hazardous chemicals was seized at this location... There still may be hazardous substances or waste products on this property, either in the building or in the ground itself. Please exercise caution while on these premises."

    Until the legality of herbal incense is clarified in the courts, Siegel and Wright are advising clients to cease production, sales, and distribution and to generally stay away from herbal incense. Their longtime client Jeffrey Bowman, president of XYZ Widgets, dissolved his company just three days before Operation Log Jam. Joel Lester, who snitched on Mr. Nice Guy, pleaded guilty to federal distribution charges but served only a few months in prison on a plea deal.

    On a near-daily basis, Wright still gets calls from people around the country looking to make and sell incense products. He explains that it's a terrible idea and says they're asking to get arrested. But for many, the temptation of raking in big bucks from cheap synthetic highs is too great. Although herbal incenses are hard to find nowadays, products are for sale online and at unscrupulous shops.

    "You can never resolve this kind of problem by taking away the product," Wright says. "The only way you resolve it is by taking away the desire or treating the desire. There's always something else out there. Seriously."

    By Chris Sweeney Thursday, Sep 13 2012
  11. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Here is what is posted on the Spice lawyers Web site

    CRAZY!! they test the chemicals for the vendors to keep them safe!!!!!!!!!!
  12. Basoodler
    Re: 3 Palm Beach County men charged in fake pot bust yielding ‘tons’ of the illegal s

    Operation Log Jam

    September 10, 2012
    by il-admin

    As part of a nationally coordinated effort by the Drug Enforcement Agency, “Operation Log Jam” resulted in nationwide arrests of manufacturers and retailers of herbal incense products. Specifically, the DEA has alleged in sworn affidavits that all herbal incense products contain chemicals that are analogues of illegal chemicals and are prosecuting individuals accordingly.

    We disagree.

    Chemical analysts, independent lab tests, and the actual marketing materials of most herbal incense products which clearly indicate they are not for human consumption, support our position that these products, as unpopular as they might be in the eyes of law enforcement, are not illegal analogue chemicals and the manufacturers are nothing more than legitimate businesspeople that help support local economy.
    Regardless, deference must be given to the opinion/position of the DEA until these matters are determined once and for all in Federal Courts. The DEA has made it abundantly clear that it is their intention to arrest all persons involved with the sale, distribution, and manufacture of these products.

    Accordingly, Siegel Siegel & Wright cannot, in good faith, advise any clients that it is safe or legal to engage in such business until these matters are resolved in Court and a final determination is made as to their actual legality.

    If you are a manufacturer, retailer or distributor of incense or incense related products, or have been charged criminally, please contact us for further information.

    Thomas H. Wright III, Esquire
    For the Firm
  13. Basoodler
    Re: Mr. Nice Guy warehouse explotion and legal issues (Major update with great info)

    Did Mr. Nice Guy's Relaxinol Synthetic Pot Kill Aaron Stinson?

    Last September, 26-year-old Aaron Stinson sat around a friend's apartment in upstate New York drinking some beer and smoking Relaxinol, a brand of so-called "herbal incense." Manufacturers would usually stamp warning labels on these products to indicate that they were "not for human consumption," but users knew that smoking them resulted in a high because they were soaked with synthetic cannabinoids -- man-made chemicals designed to mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana.

    Stinson, with a head of red hair, texted back and forth with his cousin and went off to bed at around 1 a.m.

    The next morning, friends found Stinson's cold, pale corpse. The first autopsy only turned up caffeine and a small amount of alcohol -- 0.06 percent, not even enough to be legally intoxicated under New York law. Then investigators learned that Stinson had been smoking Relaxinol. The next round of toxicology tests showed two synthetic cannabinoids in his blood: JWH-122 and JWH-210.

    Listed as the cause of death on Stinson's autopsy report: acute intoxication due to the combined effects of ethanol and Relaxinol.

    Until recently, Relaxinol was created legally in warehouses across Palm Beach and sold under the brand name Mr. Nice Guy. Then the feds cracked down on the grey market substances and stormed Mr. Nice Guy's production site, arresting the company's proprietors.

    Court records suggest that Relaxinol was a particularly potent flavor: A Mr. Nice Guy distributor was recorded telling an informant that Relaxinol was son strong it will cause hallucinations.

    On Monday, September 24, John Shealy and Dylan Harrison - the founders of Mr. Nice Guy - were scheduled to be arraigned in federal court on charges of unlawful distribution of controlled substance analogs, creating a substance with risk of harm to human life while manufacturing a controlled substance analog, and misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and mislead.

    "I think it's so appropriate and so ironic that they [were] arraigned two days before the one-year anniversary of my son dying from their product," says Deirdre Canaday, Stinson's mother.

    Shealy and Harrison, however, were able to delay arraignment another month and are now slated to appear in federal court at the end of October.

    But Canaday, who wasn't been able to bring charges against Shealy and Harrison, says its ridiculous that the men weren't hit with tougher charges.

    "I'd love to see them get charged with criminally negligent homicide," Canaday says. "They knew exactly what they were making the product for; they knew what the vendors were selling it to kids for; and they knew it was a toxic substance."

  14. Basoodler
    Re: Mr. Nice Guy warehouse explotion and legal issues (Major update with great info)

    Sniper Rifles, Steroids, and Big Cash: Five Crazy Revelations About the Mr. Nice Guy Synthetic Drug Empire

    At the end of July, a slew of federal agents and local cops stormed across a small industrial complex in West Palm Beach. The target was a small office at the back of the parking lot with black plastic garbage bags hanging over its glass door.

    As detailed in this week's cover story, the raid marked the downfall of Mr. Nice Guy, one of the country's largest manufacturers of herbal incense. Over the past three years, so-called herbal-incense products flooded cities across the country. While head shops and gas stations sold them as potent potpourri, it was well-known that smoking the green leafy substances would result in a high because the products contain synthetic cannabinoids -- man-made chemicals meant to mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in natural marijuana.

    After the raid, the feds started down a rabbit hole of weirdness. Here are five of the most notable revelations that surfaced in a recent court hearing:

    5. Test DummiesTo make sure finished batches of Mr. Nice Guy were potent enough, part-time employees -- who had taken to wearing ventilation masks to stave off the harmful chemical fumes in the warehouses -- often tested the products. "We have received intelligence that when employes tested this product... they often became ill," a federal prosecutor said in a recent court hearing. "In fact, a number of employees became catatonic. They could not respond to stimuli."

    4. Home Arsenal
    After raiding the warehouse, investigators moved on to the homes of John Shealy and Dylan Harrison, the cofounders of Mr. Nice Guy. At Shealy's house, which was laced with security cameras, feds found three semiautomatic pistols, a revolver, an AK-47, and a military-grade sniper rifle. "Why anybody needs a military-grade sniper rifle that is almost 50 caliber, I have no idea if they are not intending to use it to protect themselves and protect their money," a prosecutor said.

    3. Big Cash
    It turns out that the herbal-incense industry was wildly lucrative for Shealy and Harrison. Federal prosecutors claim that Harrison purchased an $850,000 home in cash and stashed $700,000 at a friend's house and $100,000 more at his mom's house. It has been harder to track down Shealy's earnings, but informants have told the feds that Shealy often bragged about "hiding his cash in storage facilities located off the I-95 corridor."

    2. Muscle Milk
    John Shealy moved to Florida at age 19 to enter rehab for alcoholism. Court records show that he hasn't had a drink for more than ten years. He allegedly has another vice, though: anabolic steroids. When the feds raided his house, they found what appeared to be a "steroid making lab" set up on his kitchen counter. Along with large quantities of what's believed to be anabolic steroids and syringes, there were numerous beakers. "Like straight out of high school chemistry class beakers," a befuddled federal prosecutor said.

    1. Corporate Stepdad
    John Shealy's biological father split when he was a kid. According to testimony, Shealy was raised by his stepfather, Alex Molinaroli. Molinaroli, who helped Shealy out with his $500,000 bond, is vice president and president of power solutions at Johnson Controls. The company employs 140,000 people across six continents and is worth $22 billion.

  15. Basoodler
    Re: Mr. Nice Guy warehouse explotion and legal issues (Major update with great info)

    Multi Million Dollar “Fake Pot” business comes to an end in West Palm Beach

    After a recent explosion in a West Palm Beach warehouse due to acetone fueling the fire Dylan Harrison (also co-owner of Kavustra in Lake Worth) & Jonh Shealy’s “Fake Pot” business come to an end. In December 2010, Shealy and Harrison established Kratom Labs, the front company for Mr. Nice Guy which is a national chemically enhanced Pot business. There are three necessary ingredients: dry plant leaves (usually damiana leaf or marshmallow leaf), acetone (the active ingredient in nail-polish remover), and synthetic cannabinoids. To set themselves apart and appear professional, Shealy and Harrison took to clever branding: the smiley-face logo on every foil package, a name made famous by the stoner classic Half Baked, and even a marketing poster that read, “The DEA Wants You to Buy Mr. Nice Guy.” Churning out 220 pounds of the stuff the business became extremely lucrative and also attracted a lot of attention. To move their product out of Palm Beach and across the country, they worked with a small network of distributors. These middlemen would buy thousands of packets of Mr. Nice Guy at a time and resell them to gas stations, head shops, and convenience stores.

    Craziest thing about this story is that “Fake Pot” has little to no laws against selling it. Plus Shealy & Harrisons lawyers helped them do everything possible to make what there doing legal. Let’s see how this one plays out in court.


    Attorneys Spencer Siegel and Thomas Wright get ready to turn over $250,000 worth of herbal incense on behalf of a client.

  16. Basoodler
    Re: Mr. Nice Guy warehouse explotion and legal issues (Major update with great info)

    Man who allegedly made, sold synthetic marijuana charged

    The last of three men allegedly involved in the production and distribution of a well-known synthetic marijuana product has been charged by information in federal court.

    John Shealy, 39, of Royal Palm Beach was charged this morning by a superseding information for conspiracy to defraud the United States, an indication that he is working with the prosecution.

    That also indicates that Shealy’s case will likely end in a plea deal and not a trial by jury.

    Shealy was arrested back in July with his business partner Dylan Harrison, of Lantana, and Michael Bryant of Delray Beach.

    The arrests were part of Operation Log Jam, a nationwide crackdown on synthetic drug products.
    Authorities have said the three were involved in the manufacturing and distribution of Mr. Nice Guy, a popular brand of synthetic marijuana. The product was shipped across the country by way of FedEx, prosecutors have said.

    The three are tied to a Georgia Avenue warehouse explosion in May.

    In the meantime, Shealy, who is represented by Miami attorney Marc Seitles, entered a plea of not guilty and demanded a trial by jury.

    If convicted, Shealy faces a maximum prison term of five years, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervision.

    Harrison, 31, and Bryant, 30, have both been charged by information in November and September respectively.

    By Alexandra Seltzer
    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

  17. source
    Re: General Operation Log Jam headlines:DEA updates

    [imgl=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=31489&stc=1&d=1361497649[/imgl]Guilty Plea in Mr. Nice Guy Case and the Future of Synthetic Weed

    Last week in federal court, the mastermind behind one of the country's largest synthetic drug production outfits ended what could have been a bruising legal drama by pleading guilty.

    Dylan Harrison was the top guy behind Mr. Nice Guy, a synthetic-weed brand on the kush-end of the scale in terms of popularity and potency. As we recounted in a recent cover story, Harrison and other cohorts were pumping out large quantities of Mr. Nice Guy from a nondescript industrial area in West Palm Beach. The feds rounded up the Nice Guys as part of "Operation Log Jam," a full-force national takedown of the fake-weed industry.

    Harrison was facing a hefty lineup of charges after his July arrest, including unlawful distribution of controlled substance analogs (more on that later). As part of his plea deal, he'll forfeit $2 million in assets and possibly do up to five years in jail.

    "Under the circumstances, we thought it was a very good solution for our clients," Ian Goldstein, Harrison's lawyer, told New Times this week.

    Although this closes the door on the Nice Guy case, you can use the deal as a barometer for synthetic-drug prosecutions statewide -- and the truth is that thanks to some open legal issues, no one really knows what the hell is going on.

    A lot of the confusion is due to a current court decision set to come out of the middle district of Florida. There, attorneys for Ilan Fedida are challenging the government's use of the Federal Analog Act, the backbone of Operation Log Jam.

    The act was written in the mid-80s, a lot of experts say the analog argument is too vague about what substances share the same pharmacological DNA as illegal ones.

    In December, a court in Tampa heard three-days of testimony from experts poking a hole in the act. Interestingly, during the hearing, Florida AG Pam Bondi issued an emergency order banning 22 synthetic substances. Some legal pros watching from the sidelines say the move might signal the state doesn't think the analog act will still be on its feet after the Tampa court rules -- that is, by dropping the emergency order, it suggests that these substances weren't illegal before said order.

    "Some of the jurisdictions in Florida have been dumping cases," says Thomas Wright, a Boca Raton attorney who follows synthetic cases. "In other words, you have prosecutors that have cases, and as soon as she issued this emergency order, they say we're not going to prosecute."

    A ruling on the analog argument is set to come out sometime this month. Now, if it goes down, prosecutors will probably still find other charges to roll out against synthetic manufacturers. That's what was in play in with the Mr. Nice Guy case. But at this moment, there's still a lot of uncertainty on both sides of the courtroom when it comes to synthetic drugs and possible punishments.

    "The case presented a lot of unique issues that no one has really dealt with before," says Harrison's attorney Goldstein. "If someone gets caught with ten kilos of cocaine, it is what it is."

    By Kyle Swenson Thu., Feb. 21 2013 at 9:08 AM
  18. Phenoxide
    Re: General Operation Log Jam headlines:DEA updates

    The journalists missed a trick here. All these articles and not one "No more Mr. Nice Guy" pun.

    Still, good riddance to bad rubbish. Shoddy distributors like these guys have done a lot of damage to the RC market. Five years is also pretty light compared to some of the sentences after Web Tryp so I'm not surprised that after all the bravado about taking on the DEA we've heard from various advocacy groups that he took the plea deal. It's still a pretty ludicrous double standard that a person who sells a little bit of weed to a few acquaintances for pocket money can be jailed for longer than guys like this that engage in international scale drug dealing with multi-million dollar revenues.
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