LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Two men were sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for a synthetic cannabinoid "spice" manufacturing scheme run out of a Las Vegas warehouse in 2012, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a release Thursday. The pair made about $1.61 million selling 4,000 pounds of product in Nevada to smoke shops across the U.S.
On July 3, 2019, Charles Burton Ritchie, 49, of Park City, Utah, and Benjamin Galecki, 46, of Pensacola, Florida were convicted on 24 counts, including wire fraud, money laundering and mail fraud, among other substance distribution charges.
According to evidence presented in court, Ritchie and Galecki created smokable "spice" made with dangerous chemicals and marketed the products as "potpourri, incense or aromatherapy," according to a release.
"Charles Burton Ritchie and Benjamin Galecki operated a nationwide criminal enterprise, selling dangerous drugs worth millions of dollars that contained illegal ingredients imported from China," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. "These sentences demonstrate the department’s commitment to aggressively pursuing criminals who seek to circumvent U.S. drug laws by selling dangerous drugs that threaten the health of our communities across the nation."
U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada praised the state's law enforcement partners, including local DEA office and IRS, for thwarting the illegal drug operation.
"Our joint efforts have helped curb the flow of spice into communities across the country," Trutanich said in a statement.
"Ritchie and Galecki benefited greatly at the detriment of our community and others by putting illegal drugs on the streets and profiting from it," said Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan, IRS Criminal Investigation. "IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to serve on the side of justice to clean up the streets."
In addition to time served, the two will forfeit approximately $2.5 million earned in the multi-state drug enterprise with criminal complaints filed in Alabama and Virginia.
The case was also investigated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a multi-jurisdictional task force that handles drug trafficking cases.