A Watertown man has been indicted on federal drug charges for allegedly using his home as a base for the sale of synthetic marijuana over the summer.
Joshua Hayhurst, 23, was indicted this week in U.S. District Court of South Dakota on one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance analogue. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Hayhurst is the sixth South Dakotan charged under federal analogue statutes since U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson issued a stern warning to sellers of synthetics this summer.
Synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2, spice, potpourri or herbal incense, was sold in Sioux Falls and labeled “not for human consumption” from 2011 through last summer, when three Sioux Falls “Roll With It” tobacco stores were raided as part of a federal sting operation called “Operation Log Jam” in July.
In October, five people were indicted in connection to those raids under the federal analogue statutes, which make it a crime to traffic in a substance with chemical makeup that is substantially similar to that of a scheduled narcotic.
Roll With It Owners Thomas Harms, 45, and Cyndi Harms, 42, along with Gwen Pike, 49, and Andrea Anderson, 35, both of Sioux Falls were indicted separately that month on one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue. The Harmses also were charged with money laundering.
Corey Morrison, 24, meanwhile, was charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue and money laundering.
Federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Hayhurst under seal in November. He was arrested on the analogue charge, appeared before a judge and was released before his indictment this week. His case was unsealed Tuesday.
Court documents say Watertown Police Department detectives found large quantities of leafy synthetic drugs in Hayward’s apartment during a search June 29.
Detectives also found a large amount of cash, court papers say, and Hayhurst admitted that the synthetic marijuana belonged to him.
“Hayhurst further admitted that he purchased the synthetic marijuana at Roll With It in Sioux Falls, S.D., and that the staff at Roll With It informed Hayhurst that the synthetic marijuana was legal to sell,” the court papers say.
Hayhurst told officers that $500 of the $1,912 ultimately seized that day came from the sale of synthetic marijuana.
The sale and use of synthetic drugs in South Dakota drew widespread media attention late last year and early this year, as the state Legislature worked toward passing an emergency ban.
Much of the focus was on Sioux Falls, where the Roll With It stores are located, and Deadwood, where a store called Pam’s Purple Door was targeted by law enforcement for its sale of a drug called “Night Lights.”
Watertown also saw its share of trouble from designer drugs, according to Detective Chad Stahl.
A handful of casinos and liquor stores in the city began dabbling in synthetics in summer 2010, he said, which prompted the city council to enact a local ban in August of that year.
“We were having issues really early on,” Stahl said.
When the Roll With It and Smoke It Up tobacco shops in Sioux Falls began selling the products last year and grew in popularity, Watertown teens would travel south to pick up supplies, Stahl said.
“We we seeing quite a bit of it until the feds did their big round-up,” Stahl said. “People would pool their money and take trips to Sioux Falls.”
The passage of the state law didn’t shut things down, but it did help in Watertown.
The Chicago Avenue Bar in the tiny Deuel County town of Goodwin, 14 miles from the city, was selling synthetics to regional customers through March.
That’s when the proprietors, 50-year-old Phil Plunkett and 39-year-old Jason Toben, were charged with possession of a controlled substance, maintaining a place for the sale or use of controlled substances, possession of a controlled substance in a school zone and distribution of substances for the purposes of intoxication.
Plunkett also was charged with possession of a controlled weapon.
Both men were sentenced to prison this fall.
Dec. 6 2012
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.