Illinois has recently been afflicted with an epidemic of injuries and two deaths from a drug identified as synthetic marijuana and popularly called K2. Federal agents in the state arrested three men on drug charges, saying that they sold them the drug at their mini mart convenience store on Chicago’s West Side. The packages sold in the store were labeled with names like “Matrix,” “Crazy Monkey,” and “Blue Giant,” according to federal agents.
About 60 injuries have been reported by public health officials. The drug, which is alleged to be laced with a toxic substance found in rat poison, causes users to bleed profusely from the eyes, nose and mouth. The suspects are accused of selling 50 to 60 packets per day of the drug from their store. Agents allege that one of the men was found in possession of $280,000 in cash.
Authorities traced at least some of the injuries to the purchases made at the store, they reported. Each of the three suspects is charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance. Criminal defense counsel will look closely at the intent of the men and the circumstances surrounding the alleged sales. The cash money may be related to the store’s general sales and not specifically to the packets of product, which were commercially packaged and priced as retail items in the stores public racks, according to published photos of the packages.
That raises the potential defense that they did not knowingly intend to sell a controlled substance, which may have been supplied to the store by a commercial distributor. Further, it is unknown if any of the men owned the store or were mere clerks behind the counter. In Illinois and elsewhere, it is necessary to prove that a defendant possessed and/or sold a controlled substance with knowledge of its illegality and with criminal intent. Without that protection, any innocent clerk in a general convenience store could be arrested and convicted on drug charges for ringing up sales of commercially packaged and labeled products without any way of knowing that they were illegal or prohibited.
Source: ABC News, “3 Chicago store clerks charged with selling synthetic pot laced with rat poison“, Karma Allen, April 3, 2018