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October 16, 2014Newport News, VA, United StatesNarcotics

12 indicted for roles in large-scale synthetic narcotics operation

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Twelve individuals were charged Thursday in a multi-count indictment related to the distribution of controlled substance analogues, aka Spice, among other charges. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from multiple local, state and federal agencies.

According to the indictment, the defendants ostensibly sold Blueberry Hedgehog, Cherry Hedgehog, Purp, Hampster Purp, Easta Pink and Yella to the public as aromatic potpourri and herbal incense, but these products contained synthetic chemicals that mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. The defendants intended each to be smokeable products, and consequently were subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laws and regulations. The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations considers these products as street drug alternatives, and as such, has concluded they pose a potential threat to public health. 

The indictment also includes additional criminal charges, including: conspiracy to import and distribute controlled substance analogues, conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud the United States, distribution of controlled substance analogues, misbranding, mail fraud, importation of a controlled substance, smuggling goods into the United States, maintaining drug involved premises, possession of acetone with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, distribution of drug paraphernalia, use of a communication facility to commit a drug crime and money laundering.

In addition to the criminal charges, the United States seeks the forfeiture of 61 property items and a monetary judgment of nearly $13.15 million. According to the indictment, the charges arose from the individuals’ involvement with Hampton Pipe and Tobacco, a store formerly owned by Jayson Mickle, 29, of Hampton, in the production and distribution of synthetic cannabinoids or Spice.

In addition to Jayson Mickle, the following individuals have also been named in the indictment:

  • Amanda Rowe, 30, of Hampton;
  • Sandra Cooke, 52, of Hampton;
  • Phillip Gibson, 45, of Hampton;
  • Jake Pham, 29, of Newport News;
  • David Jay Mickle, 52, of Hayes;
  • David Joseph Mickle, 31, of Hampton;
  • Margaret Amber Phillips Cooper, 31, of Gloucester;
  • Jaime Wainwright, 24, of Hampton;
  • Abigail Rose Phillips, 29 of Hampton;
  • Christopher Ellis, 30, of Salt Lake City, Utah; and
  • Justin Calderon, 32, of New York, New York.

On Thursday, federal, state and local law enforcement agents arrested Jayson Mickle, Rowe, Cooke, Gibson, Pham, David Jay Mickle, David Joseph Mickle, Cooper, Wainwright and Phillips.

As the arrests were taking place, law enforcement also executed federal search warrants at Jayson Mickle’s home on Chowning Drive in Hampton and a business location associated with Angry Monkey Glass on G Street in Hampton.

This investigation began more than two years ago. The following agencies assisted HSI with the investigation: the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Virginia State Police, the Tri-Rivers and Peninsula Task Forces, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Hampton Police Department, the Newport News Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Virginia Department of Emergency Services, the Virginia Fusion Center, and the Virginia Marine Resources Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric M. Hurt and Kevin Hudson are prosecuting this case.

Indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

Updated: 12/05/2014