A Vancouver man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Portland to conspiring to participate in an international synthetic drug ring in which drugs were mislabeled and advertised as legal products to consumers.
Ryan “Bo” Scott, 31, entered guilty pleas Tuesday to manufacturing and distributing controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22.
As part of a plea agreement, lawyers in the case have recommended a sentence of eight years in federal prison, three years of probation and forfeiture of about $5.4 million in drug sale proceeds.
Scott operated under the business name KTW Enterprises, and manufactured some of the drugs out of a 3,000-square-foot warehouse at 12209 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver, according to a search warrant affidavit. The owner of the building told investigators he thought the business distributed herbs.
Scott was one of four people arrested in connection with a trafficking investigation first launched in early 2011 by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Scott and his co-conspirators conspired to manufacture and distribute synthetic marijuana with unsafe chemicals banned by the DEA, mixing them with herb extracts and coloring agents to disguise the illegal substances from law enforcement, court records say. The defendants marketed the products as incense or other legal products online with more than 50 domain names, including k2incense.org. A well-known synthetic marijuana product was called Spice.
Scott and his partners created product lines, such as K2 Summit, K2 Sex and Orisha Summoning Powder, among others, and affixed labels with the phrase, “not for human consumption,” court records say.
In 2010, KTW was incorporated as a business in Oregon.
Within 18 months, Scott went from receiving unemployment benefits to earning $1.8 million, according to court transcripts.
Despite the fact that federal investigators were investigating the ring and seized products from the defendants, Scott continued with his business manufacturing the illegal drugs, court records say.
“Despite knowing from customers that people are getting sick off his product, he continued selling very similar, albeit chemically structurally different” products, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah Bolstad said during an April 2012 court hearing.
The drug ring operated in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Kansas, Canada and Peru.
Federal agents used search warrants in May 2013 to seize hundreds of pounds of dried plant materials, packaging equipment and chemicals found in the defendants’ residences and Scott’s warehouse in Vancouver.
Side effects of the banned chemicals in synthetic marijuana can include rapid heartbeat, hallucinations and a psychotic state, said Clark County sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Cooke.