As the federl government slowly plays catch-up with the synthetic market, more businesses who appeared to be running legal herbal incense operations are getting swept up by law enforcement. Any headshops, smoke shops, convenience stores, or similar businesses still carrying synthetic herbal incense, especially in brick and mortar retail outlets, should be sending the products out for legal compliance testing. Now that the feds have had the Zombie Matter creator arrested for selling chemicals that were not illegal at the time of their sale, it appears the prohibition on herbal incense is getting serious.
Zombie Matter was a best-selling herbal incense for months. The brand’s flavors and potency earned it a massive cult following, and huge profits as well. The former owner of Zombie Matter, Mark Ciccarello, is charged with running a large-scale drug operation for at least fifteen months from 2011 to 2012, shortly after Operation Log Jam.
According to an article in The Idaho Stateman, Ciccarello and several employees are facing very serious charges for the sale of a technically legal synthetic product.
Mark Ciccarello was indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple counts – including conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance analogue, conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States and conspiracy to launder money – according to court documents unsealed Wednesday (May 15th, 2013). Four co-defendants – Robert A. Eoff, Troy L. Palmer, William B. Mabry and Holly F. Ciccarello – were indicted on the distribution and smuggling charges.
Although the prosecution has not provided exact numbers, they claim that Zombie Matter sales were in the millions of dollars. In fact, one count of the charges alleges that Ciccarello transferred $360,000 of Zombie Matter LLC proceeds to a personal account for the purchase of a home in Idaho. Prosecutors are alleging that the defendants knew their product was being illegally abused.
Mark Ciccarello allegedly procured some of the chemicals used in the manufacturing of the products from China. The affadavit said a parcel containing more than 2,000 grams of powder shipped from China to a manufacturing facility used by Ciccarello was intercepted in March 2012 in San Francisco. The powder contained the synthetic cannaboid UR-144. Ciccarello allegedly knew the spice produced for him was being consumed by people, so he labeled it “not for human consumption” to try to keep the shops that were selling it out of legal trouble.
If convicted on all counts, Ciccarello and the other defendants will face years in prison. Regardless of whether they are convicted, they all stand to lose all recently acquired assets, especially cash, cars, and real estate. When a brand this respected gets dragged into court, it’s a sure sign that synthetic herbal incense is a dangerous product to manufacture or sell.
Source: Idaho Statesman