NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A 31-year-old Hampton man pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Norfolk, the Newport News Police Department, the Hampton Police Department, the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from 2008 to 2014, Jayson Mickle, 31, sold synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as “spice,” in the Hampton Roads area and, eventually, nationwide. Spice consists of plant material sprayed with ever changing active chemical ingredients often produced in clandestine laboratories in China. These chemicals mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Mickle sold blends of spice with names like Hampster Purp, HPT Cherry, Bizarro and Orgazmo. Although the packets of spice were labeled “not for human consumption,” Mickle knew spice was smoked for its intoxicating properties.
Mickle began sales through retail stores by the name of Hampton Pipe and Tobacco, located in Hampton, Newport News, Gloucester and Norfolk. In 2010, Mickle also began a wholesale operation online called Blazin Herbs. In 2013, the wholesale outfit’s name was changed to 7 City Gifts. At times, Mickle was supplied by Zencense, which was a large-scale spice producer and wholesaler based in Florida. Between January 2012 and April 2013, Mickle’s spice distribution operation purchased in excess of 1,000 kilograms of spice for resale from Zencense. Mickle’s operations also supplied the Red Barn, a convenience store in Newport News, with spice in late 2013 into early 2014. From 2010 to 2012 alone, Mickle’s retail operation, Hampton Pipe and Tobacco, grossed more than $9.6 million in spice sales. Hampton Pipe and Tobacco retailed spice for about $8 per gram.
Mickle was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2016 on a superseding indictment. Mickle faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 13. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.