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5 Idaho residents face federal charges in 'spice' distribution scheme

BOISE, Idaho — A federal grand jury indicted five Boise-area residents on federal charges for their role in a scheme to manufacture and sell a marijuana analogue commonly known on the street as "spice."

The defendants were arrested and made their initial appearance in federal court this week following a probe by special agents and officers with the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Ada County Sheriff's Office, and the Boise, Meridian and Nampa police departments.

Those charged in the indictment are: Meridian residents Mark A. Ciccarello, 35, and Holly F. Ciccarello, 39; and Boise residents Robert A. Eoff, 30, Troy L. Palmer, 43, and William B. Mabry, 45. The defendants face four counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue; conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States; conspiracy to sell and transport drug paraphernalia; and conspiracy to launder money.

The indictment alleges that between March 1, 2011, and July 9, 2012, within the states of Idaho, Alaska, California, Washington, and Wisconsin, the defendants conspired to purchase and import chemicals from China used to make "spice," a synthetic cannabinoid similar to substances listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The indictment further alleges the defendants conspired to sell and transport drug paraphernalia, and that they conspired to launder money illegally obtained from these activities. The government is seeking forfeiture of proceeds derived from the alleged criminal activities.

"This indictment demonstrates that federal, state and local law enforcement in Idaho will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who unlawfully distribute dangerous synthetic substances in our communities," said U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson. "Although we don't yet know the full toll that these substances that mimic cannabis have taken on users, we do know that emergency room workers, parents and law enforcement officers have terrifying stories of medically dangerous and sometimes deadly reactions. I commend all of the agencies and prosecutors who spent countless hours bringing the investigation to this point."

If convicted the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the distribution charge alone. Maximum sentences for the other charges range from three to 10 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000.

The OCDETF program is a federal, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. Other federal agencies participating in the OCDETF program include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service.

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.