Another Treasure Valley Head Shop Owner Pleads Guilty
BOISE—Troy A. Rawlings, 33, of Meridian, Idaho, pleaded guilty today in federal court to count one of the indictment charging him with conspiracy to sell, offer for sale, and transport drug paraphernalia, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Rawlings and his co-defendant, Jason Guerrero, 34, of Boise, Idaho, were indicted by a federal grand jury on May 9, 2012.
Rawlings, the co-owner and operator of RG Distributing Inc., doing business as Smoke Shack and Smoke Shack 2, admitted in court today that he conspired to sell paraphernalia under the guise of “tobacco products,” or with claims of other “legitimate” uses. According to the indictment, Rawlings referred to the drug paraphernalia as “smoking accessories” to be used only to smoke tobacco. Virtually all of the smoking devices sold under this guise were commonly used to ingest marijuana, hashish, and/or other illegal drugs, not tobacco.
The charge is punishable by up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release. The government is seeking forfeiture of assets derived from or used in the offense.
Rawlings is scheduled to be sentenced on June 17, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise.
On February 26, 2013, Guerrero pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging him with one count of offering drug paraphernalia for sale and one count of engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4. He faces up to three years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release on the drug paraphernalia charge and up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and not more than three years of supervised release on the money laundering charge.
Rawlings and Guerrero are among the 17 individuals charged last year as part of Operation Not for Human Consumption, which targeted illegal sales of drug paraphernalia and “spice” at 13 Treasure Valley businesses. According to search warrant affidavits, nine of the 13 businesses were openly selling “spice,” a substance that tested positive for AM-2201. The DEA has determined that AM-2201 is a controlled substance analogue. “Spice,” a synthetic form of cannabis, which is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product that, when consumed, mimics the effects of cannabis. In the spring of 2011, the Idaho Legislature criminalized the sale of “spice” under state law. In March of 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration placed five synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It is against federal law to sell or offer for sale any paraphernalia that is primarily intended or designed for drug use, regardless of whether the seller advises their customers that the paraphernalia is for tobacco use only. The businesses are commonly referred to as “head shops.”
Operation Not for Human Consumption includes the cooperative law enforcement efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Boise Police Department; Ada County Sheriff’s Office; Canyon County Sheriff’s Office; Nampa Police Department; Meridian Police Department; and the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office. The U.S. Marshals Service and Idaho State Police provided assistance.