FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Five people from Larimer County face federal drug charges related to the manufacture and distribution of synthetic marijuana using an illegal substance ordered from China.
Dien Le, Ponlue Pim, Pirun Pim, Ricky Pim, and Kenneth Barnes were arrested last week.
Most face charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, according to Department of Justice spokesman Jeff Dorschner. Others face possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and distribute.
They're accused of making spice by mixing substances including a chemical called JWH-018, a synthetic form of cannabis.
Dorschner said investigators with Homeland Security Investigations and the Northern Colorado Task Force executed seven search warrants related to the case on Friday. As a result, they seized money from bank accounts, $26,000 in cash, 75 pounds of spice and the chemicals and dry products to make spice, thousands of packages of spice for sale and several firearms.
Barnes allegedly ordered the JWH-018, a white powder, from China. Dorschner said the chemical was sent to New York City and on to Fort Collins.
Barnes also allegedly had a green, leafy substance sent to Fort Collins from San Antonio, Texas.
Along with Le and the Pims, Barnes would allegedly mix the spice by blending the substances together, moistening and drying the mixture.
Dorschner said the group packaged the spice and took it to head shops, gas stations or other local stores to be sold. The cost of 1.5 gram packets would be $10, and the cost for 3 gram packets would be $20.
The charges against each of the five defendants carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
The five appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver Monday afternoon, where they were advised of their rights and the charges pending against them.