General Merchandise

C-Store Owners Face Prison Time for Synthetic Marijuana Sales

Oklahoma retailers also found guilty of money laundering

TULSA, Okla. -- Two convenience-store owners were sentenced Nov. 21, 2014, for conspiring to distribute and distributing more than 127 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoids, which were marketed by names such as Diablo, Joker, Kush and Scooby Snax, announced Danny C. Williams Sr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma

United States District Judge Claire V. Eagan sentenced Iqbal Makkar, 37, of Bentonville, Ark., to 97 months, and Gaurav Sehgal, 37, of Grove, Okla., to 84 months in prison. Following a five-day trial, a federal jury convicted the defendants of conspiracy to distribute controlled drug analogues, possession of Schedule 1 controlled substance analogue with intent to distribute, maintaining drug-involved premises, and money laundering. A federal grand jury charged the defendants on Nov. 11, 2013.

From November 2011 to January 2013, Makkar and Sehgal operated the Gitter Done Station convenience store in Grove, Okla., for the purpose of storing and distributing the controlled substance analogue known as XLR11. The charges included depositing funds from the illegal sales and distributions of controlled substance analogues into a checking account at the Corner Stone Bank in Southwest, Mo.

XLR11 is a synthetic substance typically sprayed on inert plant material. XLR11 has similar or greater pharmacological effects as THC, a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Some side effects of XLR11 include paranoia, elevated heart rates, seizures, nausea and panic attacks. The use of XLR11 and other synthetic cannabinoids has resulted in emergency-room visits, impaired driving and suicide attempts.

As part of the sentencing, Eagan entered an order forfeiting the interest of the defendants in two convenience stores valued at over $1 million, two residences and four other real properties valued at $1.75 million, proceeds of financial accounts and seized currency totaling over $721,000 and a Range Rover vehicle. Eagan also entered a joint and several criminal-forfeiture money judgment against defendants in the amount of $2.58 million.

In addition, the defendants were ordered to pay more than $6,000 in restitution to a victim who was hospitalized as a result of smoking synthetic cannabinoid bought at the convenience store.

The case was investigated by the Oklahoma District 13 Drug Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Clinton Johnson, Trent Shores, Shannon Cozzoni, and Catherine Depew prosecuted on behalf of the United States.

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