Mikhael Kamar, 51, appeared this week in federal court on a three count indictment that was brought by the federal grand jury in Fresno. He was charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute, distributing, and possessing with the intent to distribute designer synthetic drugs.
The court record stated that more than 1000 pounds of designer synthetic drugs were seized from a warehouse and smoke shop known as Havana House, as well as $2.7 million in cash from his residence and his smoke shop.
Designer synthetic drugs often are marketed as plant food, jewelry clean, bath salts and incense. They can cause abuse, addiction and overdoses.
The very different chemical composition of these products can make it hard for the DEA to keep up. Just as the government bans one chemical, another comes out. Back in 2009 when synthetic cannabis was introduced in the US, it was legal. Now, there are several federal laws that prohibit it. Synthetic cannibis has a different chemical structure than real marijuana, but its effects can be five to 800 times stronger than the real thing.
People who abuse synthetic drugs can suffer from anxiety, vomiting, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, organ damage and death.
The particular drugs seized in this cased included synthetic cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids that can be smoked often are known as spice, K2, herbal blends or incense. They can produce a high akin to smoking marijuana. They have become more popular with teens and young adults, because they are available at many smoke shops, retail outlets and also online. Synthetic cannabinoids can be more dangerous and potent than marijuana. In fact, the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers reported 2435 calls related to problems with exposure to synthetic cannabinoids this year.
Synthetic cathinones that are marketed as bath salts have dangerous substances in them that can mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and meth. These are not the types of bath salts that should be used in your tub, and users have reported motor control problems, perception problems, paranoia and violent episodes.
This case is being prosecuted by the DEA, the Bakersfield CA Police Department and the Kern County Probation Department.
If Kamar is convicted, he can be put in prison for 20 years and given a fine as high as $1 million. Mandatory minimum sentence laws could apply. Any sentence in the case will be at the discretion of the federal court after consideration of statutory factors and Federal Sentencing Guidelines.