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Son of Alaska legislator sentenced to 16 years in prison for leading drug ring

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Wasilla man was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison for leading a methylone production and distribution ring linked to at least one death.

Robin Michael Gattis, the 20-year-old son of Alaska state house member Lynn Gattis, admitted in an August plea agreement to illegally importing methylone and leading a drug conspiracy. The drug, more commonly known as "M1," is a stimulant popular among club-going youth that is chemically similar to MDNA or Ecstasy.

According to court records, Gattis also admitted distributing drugs to minors and being responsible for providing the methylone that caused the April 2012 death of a co-conspirator, Matt Scott. Prosecutors say Gattis used minors to wire money to China to buy methylone and asked friends and associates to allow him to use their addresses to receive shipments. Some of those international shipments were intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). After Scott's death, Gattis emailed his Chinese supplier about the death and asked for a refund. However, less than a month later, Gattis resumed ordering from the same supplier.

Following the drug-related death, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Anchorage Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team launched an investigation. Authorities intercepted additional methylone-laden packages and found that Gattis imported at least three kilograms of methylone from China between October 2011 and July 2012.

"Designer drugs from China in the hands of young, enterprising drug dealers proved to be deadly in this case," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI Seattle, who oversees Alaska investigations. "International shipments are routinely inspected by CBP officers at sorting facilities around the country to detect illicit packages like the ones shipped to Gattis and his co-conspirators. HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to pursuing those who use legitimate shipping channels to smuggle drugs into the U.S."

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler warned: "People taking these drugs have absolutely no idea what they are ingesting. They are not made in a laboratory with standards and oversight. They are made by criminals and there is no way to tell what is in the powder you're putting in your body. A teenage party should not end with death and a grieving family. These club drugs are touted as safe, and they are not.