KANSAS CITY, KAN. - Two Kansans were sentenced Thursday for operating a synthetic drug business that generated $16 million in sales in less than two years, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.
Tracy Picanso, 61, Olathe, Kan., and Roy Ehrett, 59, Olathe, Kan., were sentenced to 54 months in federal prison. Picanso and Ehrett each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of producing and selling misbranded drugs, one count of producing and selling counterfeit drugs and one count of conspiracy to launder money.
An indictment returned in 2014 alleged Picanso and Ehrett owned an Olathe-based business producing and selling dangerous controlled substances and controlled substance analogues of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and methcathinones (stimulants).
They sold products under exotic names including Pump It, Head Trip, Black Arts, Grave Digger, Voodoo Doll and Lights Out. Some of the drugs were manufactured in buckets with drill-powered immersion mixers and tried out on “testers” who helped tweak the recipes by reporting on the drugs’ effects.
The operation stretched from Kansas to Missouri, California, Texas, Georgia and Colorado, involving more than 15 companies with more than 40 financial accounts at more than 10 financial institutions. Businesses owned and operated by the defendants included Retailing Specialists, Innovative Products 4U, The Outer Edge, Lakeridge Holdings, Monster Warehouse, Monster Distribution, Monster, 3P Distribution and Life Source.
“Without FDA oversight, unapproved and counterfeit drugs that are produced and marketed outside the Federal system present the prospect of serious harm to the public’s health,” said Special Agent in Charge Spencer E. Morrison, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Kansas City Field Office. “FDA-OCI appreciates the coordinated efforts of DEA and other law enforcement agencies to bring to justice all those who evade federal drug laws.”
Beall commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the FBI, the Overland Park Police Department, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Olathe Police Department, the St. Joseph Police Department and the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway, and Michael Varrone, associate chief counsel at the Food and Drug Administration for their work on the case.