A multi-million dollar illegal drug operation producing the synthetic drug known as K2 was broken up after the lead defendant was arrested last Tuesday on Molokai.
Alexander Dimov, 33, a Bulgarian national, was arrested May 15 on Molokai and transported to Honolulu to appear in federal court. He was then transported to Oregon where he will face charges as the lead defendant among four defendants named in a six-count indictment.
“This indictment marks a new era in combating narcotics trafficking by organizations which manufacture seemingly endless variations of synthetic substances in an effort to stay one step ahead of law enforcement,” said U. S. Attorney Amanda Marshal.
The arrest was part of a coordinated effort of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assisting in the investigation were agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
The designer drug K2, also known as Spice, contains synthetic cannabinoids, which have a similar effect as natural cannabis. The mixed chemical compounds are blended with natural herb extracts and are often marketed as “incense.” In some cases, K2 has been known to induce prolonged and acute psychosis. The lack of an antipsychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol found in natural cannabis, may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis. Because of its danger, the DEA has classified it as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, reserved for those substances with a high potential for abuse.
Since early 2011, HSI and IRS agents, working closely with financial analysts from the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), have been investigating this conspiracy that has engaged in large-scale wholesale distribution of K2. The indictment claims that the defendants used the internet to market and distribute K2 and are alleged to have purchased dozens of domain names, including “k2drugs.com” and “k2incense.org” to obtain a monopoly on the market for K2.
The investigation culminated on May 15 with the execution of search warrants at the defendants’ residences and a warehouse in Vancouver, Wash., where agents seized hundreds of pounds of dried plant materials, packaging equipment and chemicals.
Dimov, along with defendant Ryan Scott — who was arrested the same day in his home in Vancouver, Wash. — are being charged with conspiring with others to manufacture and distribute the synthetic drug. The conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. The defendants are also charged with illegal importation, smuggling, distributing misbranded drugs and money laundering.
“With these arrests, HSI has halted a multi-million dollar business that we believe was a threat to public health and safety,” said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “The public should be aware that these synthetic drugs are just as dangerous, and now just as illegal, as similar controlled substances.”