Andrew Raymond, 39, and Brian Requena, 41, both of Los Angeles, California, were sentenced Wednesday following their conviction after trial for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute synthetic drugs and money laundering, relating to their operation of a major nationwide synthetic drug trafficking ring, announced, United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; Special Agent in Charge James Hunt, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division; and Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), New York Field Office.
Andrew Raymond was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison and Brian Requenna was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison. Both men were convicted following an eleven-day jury trial in Syracuse in July 2017. Upon their release from prison, Raymond and Requena will each serve a three-year term of supervised release. As a further part of the sentence, Raymond and Requena forfeited multiple luxury vehicles, including a 2013 Rolls Royce Ghost, a 2014 BMW, and a 2015 Cadillac Escalade; 32 pieces of jewelry, including 10 Rolex watches, a Cartier watch, diamond earrings, diamond necklaces, and diamond rings; and funds seized from 16 bank accounts. Additionally, the court ordered a money judgment of $3 million against Raymond and a $1.5 million money judgment against Requena. Three other members of the conspiracy previously pled guilty to similar charges.
“The significant sentences imposed in this case reflect the seriousness of the defendants’ crimes –- leading an illegal business manufacturing and distributing large quantities of dangerous synthetic cannabinoids nationwide and laundering the drug proceeds,” said United States Attorney Grant Jaquith. “Thanks to the dedication of federal law enforcement, the profits of their poison peddling have been forfeited and prison substituted for their luxury. We will continue to investigate and prosecute drug traffickers who masquerade as legitimate businessmen.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt stated, “Andrew Raymond and Brian Requena were not legitimate businessmen, they were drug kingpins earning millions off the sale of poison. They capitalized on distributing synthetic cannabinoids- a deadly psychoactive substance- in Northern New York and throughout the United States. I commend the Northern District of New York for their diligent work on this investigation and their unwavering commitment to prosecuting those who violate the Controlled Substance Act.”
“We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners and will use our financial expertise to dismantle criminal organizations that victimize the American public. These two individuals made enormous profits and acquired significant assets as a result of their criminal activity. Yesterday’s sentences demonstrate the high price they will pay for engaging in such criminal activity,” stated Special Agent in Charge James D. Robnett, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), New York Field Office.
The trial evidence established that Raymond and Requena conspired to manufacture and distribute synthetic cannabinoids (also known as “Spice,” “Spike,” “K2,” or “synthetic marijuana”) throughout the country, including to multiple “head shops” in the Northern District of New York. Documents found at the defendants’ warehouses in Los Angeles and in their computers showed that they understood their synthetic substances were controlled by federal drug laws. The defendants took significant steps to evade detection by law enforcement, setting up shell companies and using Post Office boxes to divert attention from the warehouse where they manufactured their product. Additionally, the defendants transferred their company (Real Feel Products, Inc.) and all of its bank accounts from Andrew Raymond’s name to Brian Requena’s after DEA and other law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant on their warehouse in February 2014.
At the height of their drug trafficking conspiracy, Raymond and Requena were each making approximately $100,000 per week in profit, and they had a large team of employees who manufactured, shipped, and sold their products. The evidence at trial also showed that the defendants conspired to commit money laundering by wiring millions of dollars to China to purchase the powder form of the synthetic cannabinoid that they used in their finished product.
This case was investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carla Freedman and Michael F. Perry.